Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Internet and Email Utilization by a Nursing Home Resident: A Single Subject Design Exploratory Study for Improved Quality of Life for the Elderly

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Internet and Email Utilization by a Nursing Home Resident: A Single Subject Design Exploratory Study for Improved Quality of Life for the Elderly

Article excerpt

Introduction

Literature and the media suggest that there will be significant in the numbers of elderly adults in the American and world populations. "The Baby Boomers will start turning 65 in 2011, and the number of older people will increase dramatically during the 2010-2030 period." (AgingStats.Gov. Retrieved April 19, 2006, from http://agingstats.gov/chartbook2004/population.html). Not only will adult children struggle to maintain two roles; meeting the needs of their own family and those of their aging parents, individuals and agencies in the public and private sectors dedicate to elderly care will have to address prominent policy, infrastructural, and procedural issues at the state, national, and international level in order to maintain a healthy functioning quality of life for this population.

Because of distance, time constraints, and the high cost of private duty care-givers, many families have had to make the decision to place a parent in a long term care facility. This can lead to a multitude of problems for the older adult (Saunders, 1997); a sense of loss/separation from their community, home, family, and friends of many years. Stripped of their independence both in terms of personal care and loss of privacy, these residents also faces personal changes, having to share a room with another adult resident, outliving many of their friends, siblings, spouse and sometimes even their children, have little or no social ties due to an inability to drive or because of health concerns. This combination of events can lead to depression in older adults and an increased sense of being alone. Therefore, the older adult population may be at a higher risk for self- or other imposed isolation from family and the community.

However, technology may be a way to provide a means for the older adult residing in a long term care facility to remain in contact with their social support network. This can serve to reduce the risk of social isolation and depression by enabling the older adult to remain an active and engaged member of their community and family. A large segment of society commonly utilizes both the Internet and email in all aspects of daily life. The Internet and email offer instantaneous visual communication, through use of a video and audio communication, including access to massive amounts of information for news and resources. The introduction of the Internet and email to a long term care resident may help maintain their connectedness to support systems necessary for quality of life and a greater sense of involvement with family and community.

Within the next ten to twenty years many "Baby Boomers" will be retiring. However, this will be the generation that has had extensive experience with using the Internet and email and will not be satisfied with the current state of long term care facilities, nursing home, and assisted living facilities. It is important for family members and particularly administrators of programs for the elder consider the utilization of computer technology, both as a therapeutic intervention and a tool to promote social and community contacts, and respond to the inevitable demand by a more sophisticated, computer oriented consumer.

By using a single-subject design case study method, this research will explore if and how the use of the Internet and email may improve the communication, physical and mental health, social condition, and quality of life for one older adult long term care resident.

Literature Review

The Administration on Aging reports within thirty to forty years, there will be an increase in the older adult population to add to the existing rise of older adult citizens (Administration on Aging Statistics. Retrieved October 8, 2005, from http://www.aoa.gov/prof/Statistics/future-growth/aging21/). Nie (2001) reports that "The Internet today has been greeted with much the same enthusiasm as telephones, radio, and television were following their introductions into American society" (p. …

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