Residents of The Palace Gardens, an assisted living and memory care community in Homestead, are taking part in a research study with the Center on Aging at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
The study, “A Personalized Reminder Information and Social Management System (PRISM) Trials for Seniors 2.0,” is being conducted by the research team headed by Sara J. Czaja, PhD, of the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE).
Residents who enroll in the study receive a computer tablet that they will use for the duration of the 12-month project. The first phase of the study involves one-on-one training sessions with a research associate of the CREATE team on how they will use the tablet.
“The Palace Gardens residents who volunteered are very engaged, motivated and interested in learning to use new technology,” said Dr. Czaja. “Many of these residents are 95-plus years old.”
The study is being conducted in English and Spanish. Participants are required to have 20/70 vision with or without correction and must be able to read a newspaper, have the cognitively ability to learn, at risk of being socially isolated and have minimum experience with a computer, tablet or email.
“Twenty residents volunteered for the screening process and five residents were thrilled to be selected,” said Frank Dunbar, director of Activities for The Palace Gardens. “They now are in the training phase learning to use the tablets.
“The purpose of learning how to use a tablet independently is to take advantage of what it can offer such as emailing family members and using the internet to shop. Residents are fascinated learning how to use the new equipment. Learning to use a computer and having access to the internet may combat social isolation many seniors face,” Dunbar said.
The CREATE’s objectives will help expand understanding of: (1) the needs and preferences of older adults with respect to technology, barriers to access and problems with existing and emerging systems; (2) how a person’s characteristics influence person-technology interactions; (3) design strategies that promote successful use of technology among older adults, and (4) how access to and interactions with technology impacts the health, quality of life and independence of older adults.
“The Palace has demonstrated their eagerness and desire to collaborate with the University of Miami in the research study to improve the overall quality of life of older adults,” Dr. Czaja said.
The research project is one of many partnerships undertaken by The Palace Group, owners and operators of The Palace Gardens. The Palace Kendall campus which offers a full continuum of care and The Palace Coral Gables have an ongoing relationship with The University of Miami. Through UM’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute residents have access to top quality educational opportunities.