Playing remotely in times of crisis: A program to overcome social isolation

International journal of geriatric psychiatry

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2021 Oct 10. doi: 10.1002/gps.5638. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: This study aims to examine the feasibility of an intergenerational remote intervention program designed to promote the wellbeing and social connection of vulnerable older adults, mainly people with aphasia and dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic in the south of Brazil. Undergraduate students were guided to lead weekly sessions of clowning, storytelling, dancing, and cooking-related activities for 3 months (from November/2020 to February/2021).

METHOD: The mixed-method design of the study addresses the implementation and feasibility of the program. Data analysis considered both quantitative-number of individuals who accepted the invitation to participate, voluntary dropouts, attendance-and qualitative data-participative observation and thematic analysis of evaluative conversations. An inclusive group of 34 older adults with stroke-induced cognitive impairments, dementia and individuals without any neurological conditions enrolled in the program based on social and racial equity principles. Feasibility and acceptability were addressed in terms of recruitment, implementation, remote evaluation, delivery of remote intervention, adherence, and attendance. Activities and participants' perceptions are described.

RESULTS: The initial period of the program achieved 83.7% of adherence and sustainability for additional 3 months. Preliminary results suggest feasibility and acceptability, considering formal and informal support in digital inclusion. Participatory observations describe that the structure of sessions and activities were well received. The analysis of participants' perceptions detects the thematic saliency of feelings of social connection and a sense of having learned with the group.

CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary results of this study demonstrate the feasibility and acceptability of the program, pointing to its potential mental health benefits.

PMID:34628669 | DOI:10.1002/gps.5638