Online cultural events can benefit lonely older people, study shows

We remember all this well from the first lockdown. Compulsory weekly zoom quiz and streaming of cultural events organized online.

While most of us can go back to the local pub and revel in the return of the good old Sunday quiz, some people are still stuck at home. And research suggests that online cultural activities such as museum tours can significantly improve the mental and physical health of homebound seniors.

“Our study shows that arts-based activity can be an effective intervention,” said Dr Olivier Beauchet, a professor at McGill University in Montreal and lead author of the study. Published in Frontiers in Medicine.

Social isolation and loneliness, which are often more severe in older people As bad for health as chronic illness And may lead to premature death. Consecutive lockdown only during pandemic Made things worse.

Researchers suggest that just one virtual trip to a museum a week can promote social inclusion and improve the physical and mental health of seniors.

The team recruited 106 community-dwelling adults aged 65 and older to investigate the potential health benefits of arts-based activities. Half of the participants attended weekly online museum tours followed by informal discussions, while the other half did not participate in any cultural activities before or during the three-month study period.

People who joined the visits reported improved feelings of social inclusion, well-being and quality of life, as well as reduced physical impairment, compared to those who did not attend guided tours.

More than 2 million over-75s live alone in England, and more than a million say they sometimes go more than a month without any social contact, according to the charity Age UK.

“This study shows that with adequate infrastructure, age-appropriate access and technological support, digital technology can be beneficial for the mental health and well-being of older people,” said Lancaster University Professor Yang Hu.

The necessary technical guidance is often lacking, however, because of this Virtual contact made older people feel lonely Rather than no contact at all during an epidemic.

“Unfortunately, older people are often left to their own devices to navigate the use of technology,” Hu said. Unprepared and prolonged digital exposure can lead to stress and burnout among people who are not familiar with technology, he added.

Dr Snorri Raphansson of the University of West London said: “With adequate support, the potential to scale up this type of intervention is huge.”

However, not everyone has access to online resources and activities. “There are huge barriers for older people living in the community – lack of internet, knowledge and support, financial problems, etc.,” Rafnsson said. “Studies show that those who have family around them, and a supportive social network, are more likely to adopt and use online technology.”

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