Televisits: sustaining long distance family relationships among institutionalized elders through technology.

Aging & mental health

PubMedID: 12425772

Mickus MA, Luz CC. Televisits: sustaining long distance family relationships among institutionalized elders through technology. Aging Ment Health. 2002;6(4):387-96.
The role of social support in the health of older persons is well documented. This support is particularly important for isolated nursing home residents. The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of using low-cost videophones to enhance communication between nursing home residents and their families. Ten pairs of residents and family members received videophones and engaged in regular televisits for six months. All participants completed brief survey instruments prior to and after the study period to determine the effects of the televisits on the frequency and quality of contacts. A post-study survey assessed ease and satisfaction with using videophones. Findings include identification of technical and design problems, possible solutions, factors affecting actual use of equipment, and conditions under which benefits of use may be optimal. Categories for estimating potential actual users are suggested. Importantly, the study demonstrates that videophones can be used successfully by a wide range of frail nursing home residents and can enhance social interactions, regardless of distance. Affordable videophone technology offers the potential for reduced isolation among institutionalized elders and others with distance and mobility barriers.