Show older adults the utility of home health technology, he says
EAST LANSING, Mich. – A study by Michigan State University researcher William Chopik found that social technology use among older adults is linked to better self-rated health and fewer chronic illnesses and depressive symptoms. We spoke with Chopik recently about the popular belief that older adults do not embrace home health technology, and how social technology might help change that.
HHTN: Is there a way to harness the enthusiasm that older people seem to have for social technology for home health technology?
CHOPIK: If you can show them why it’s important—that it’s useful, it can improve people’s lives, it’s easy to use once they get the hang of it—that would be hard to turn down.
HHTN: Why do you think older adults are less open to learning about and using home health technology but, as your study shows, are embracing social technology?
Chopik: While there are more older adults who are open to social technology than you would think, they do note some drawbacks. With home health technology, it could be because they think it involves overcomplicated data. If they could see the utility of the technology they might be more open.
HHTN: Do you think there’s a danger that social technology, or technology in general, will replace the “personal touch”?
Chopik: I think there is evidence on both sides. There is definitely the camp that thinks technology is the bane of human existence and it’s driving us apart, but there is also the camp that thinks technology absolutely benefits us. Technology can drive us further apart, but there are definitely lots of opportunities to connect. If someone is using social technology to avoid personal connection then that’s a problem, but if it’s being used to supplement a healthy life, then it’s probably OK.
HHTN: Do you ever see a time when a physician would prescribe social technology as a home treatment for depression or a chronic condition?
CHOPIK: I could see a physician suggesting the use of social technology as a supplement, as part of treatment for depression or a chronic condition. It could be a good tool for that. Much support for that can be found in online communities and there are many mobile apps out there that are helpful.