A Descriptive Study of the Introduction of Personal Computers to Frail Elderly in the Long-term Care Setting: Advantages, Impediments and Feasibility




Adams, Carmen Ann

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Will or can long-term care residents learn to use personal computers? Will this experience improve their communication opportunities and provide an enjoyable individual activity for their daily lives? This thesis is a combination of two elements; Project Certain, which is an ongoing program by the Texas Long Term Care Institute of Southwest Texas State University and the researcher to introduce personal computers to the elderly residents at two long-term care facilities in San Marcos, Texas, and a descriptive study of the outcomes of this continuing project. The participants at the two long-term care facilities are a self-selected convenience sample. Each individual resident participating received one-on-one tutoring sessions to learn how to use a personal computer. The tutors worked as facilitators with the residents selecting computer activities during each tutoring session. The most popular activity with the computers is sending and receiving e-mails. The idea of browsing the Internet for information or entertainment was not received with much enthusiasm. Several residents in both facilities decided to use the computers primarily to play card games and other non-Internet activities. Older adults can learn to use a computer! The joy experienced by the residents when receiving e-mails from siblings, children, and grandchildren cannot be underestimated. The reciprocal relationship that developed between tutors and residents is by itself a priceless contribution to both individual’s lives. The participants do experience difficulty remembering all the steps involved with using the computer especially if tutoring is only available on a weekly basis and their learning curve is both steep and long. The elderly defer to the tutors to solve most problems encountered while using the computers, but several residents in each facility have learned to independently utilize this technological tool. Several conclusions have become apparent during this tutoring project and study. Staff, administrators, tutors, and the researcher involved with this study confirm the belief that introducing computers to long-term care residents is a worthwhile endeavor. A computer program specifically designed to teach elderly users the basics of menu-driven software is needed. Plus with a small financial investment and a large time commitment by long-term care professionals, education professionals, and volunteers across the country, personal computer instruction can make a difference in the lives of our institutionalized frail elderly throughout the United States.



computers and older people, older people, long-term care facilities, knowledge and learning, recreational activities


Adams, C. A. (2001). A descriptive study of the introduction of personal computers to frail elderly in the long-term care setting: Advantages, impediments and feasibility (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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