As local governments across Florida enact stay at home orders, people are turning to online video chats and phone calls to communicate. But for the elderly, who may not know how to use different devices, there could be a learning curve.
Dawn Carr is a sociology professor at Florida State University who studies factors that improve senior's health. She says people who are socially disconnected are more likely to be depressed. Carr notes the type of isolation people are going through due to COVID-19 is different from what is typically seen in studies.
“For some people even though they’re socially distancing themselves from others... they’re not socially disconnected from others," Carr says.
People can still chat over video and call each other, but if people shelter in place for long enough, Carr says there could be negative impacts.
“I think this particular event is shining a light on how much it affects us when we have a sudden change in our social lives.”
That change, Carr says could be a big motivator in getting seniors to learn how to use new technology:
"So maybe this provides an opportunity for them to say, 'okay, I've got to set aside my discomfort and just use this because this is what I have available,' and maybe this then can become a way for them to actually increase their social engagement even after this is over," she says.
Carr notes older people are more at risk to become isolated than the rest of the population. She hopes after the outbreak is over, seniors will continue to use new devices to stay connected.