Connecting the older population through technology during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – WAOW

LANGLADE COUNTY, Wis. (WAOW) — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic’s impact continues to be felt by many demographics across the nation and in Wisconsin.
One demographic in particular is the elderly population, and those inside of assisted living facilities, nursing homes or hospitals.
The pandemic has limited and even restricted public access into these facilities for visitation, ultimately isolating the elderly from being able to speak with or see their loved ones.
“Our loved ones in these facilities don’t have the natural connection to our people on the outside,” Langlade and Lincoln County 4-H Coordinator Holly Luerssen said.
The 4-H Tech Changemakers in conjunction with the Langlade County Healthy Aging in Rural Towns, or HeART Project, started a test run pilot program through an awarded grant.
The program brings education and community service to the aging population in Langlade County through electronic device trainings.
“What we’ve found out is that a number of people in these facilities are not able to use a phone or tablet because they might not have the finger dexterity, or other concerns that do not allow them to use that,” Luerssen said.
The grant money was also used to purchase new Alexa Echo Show 5 devices to connect facility residents with the outside world.
“So, if they’re locked down again, they can see a face, they can see a smile, they can sing with one another and they can spend time with one another even though they’re not inside together,” Luerssen said. “They can say Alexa call, and the name of the person, and that person can call out from within the facility on their call list.”
The initial test program was successful as it helped 10 families have better contact with their loved ones.
“Where their loved ones might be on their last moments of life, they can spend those moments together even though they can’t be inside,” Luerssen said.
More devices will be purchased soon and to potentially be apart of the program you can contact Holly Luerssen at [email protected] or by calling (715) 627-6236.
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