Computer communication among older adults
Quality of Life
Spinal Cord Injuries
Currently an estimated 2.8 million people aged 65 years or older needed some type of assistance in carrying out everyday activities. Therefore, there exists a need to identify strategies which enhance the functional independence of older adults. There are a number of computer and communication technologies which can be used to provide support. For the potential of these technologies to be realized, they must be easy to use, easily available and accepted by older adults. The goal of this research project was to evaluate the feasibility of having older people use computers to perform tasks in their own home environment and to identify design parameters which facilitate their interaction with these systems. The study involved installing a customized e-mail system in the homes of 38 elderly women. Additional features were added over the course of the project. Data collected included: frequency of use, number and type of messages sent, communication patterns, time distribution of messages and frequency of features used. Overall the results of the study indicate that older adults are willing and able to use computers in their own homes if the system is simple, features are added in an incremental fashion and they are provided with a supportive environment.