Those who are older, disabled, new mothers and those who work from home often experience something in common–a feeling of isolation, of being in a vacuum. This Guardian article discusses how online networks targeting special interests can relieve that feeling: Mumsnet for new mothers, Scope for the disabled. For older people, Mindings (UK) can connect them to their own private network with text messaging, reminders, calendaring and photo sharing; it has been piloted by NHS Midlands and East as well as Suffolk County Council for dementia sufferers.
This Editor tried the artificial intelligence software powered chatbot Mitsuku recommended in the article, and found it monumentally silly after a minute of ‘dialogue’, kind of like a person you’ve met at a cocktail party with whom you find some common ground, only to find out that you’ve met a parrot, and not the Monty Python Dead Parrot.
One-on-one relationships that don’t need apps is in a related Guardian article where their writers take up Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s invitation for people to invite their elderly friends and neighbors into their homes for a chat and a cup of tea. Five interesting and feisty experiences on both sides, with the acknowledgement that the older person sometimes is dealing with loneliness but written quite differently than would be in the US (where the writers would strain for a touch of pathos). Meet the pensioners next door: ‘I don’t let them know I am lonely’
Learning about technology can also connect older people in isolated and disadvantaged areas. The Age Connects Torfaen (Wales) ‘digital club’ has three times per week sessions, ‘Silver Surfer’ festivals and reaches out to older people where they visit most. Using laptop computers and tablets, older people learn how to email family, share photos and use the internet for research and shopping. What is also apparent is that by forming groups, there’s plenty of human socialization as well as virtual. Hat tip to Malcolm Fisk via LinkedIn