Many people prefer face-to-face interaction, but with the COVID-19 pandemic’s social distancing policies, geographic and mobility barriers have frequently prevented in-person meetings. Video conferencing technologies like FaceTime, Skype, or Facebook Portal, have bridged the physical gap and allowed people to stay connected.
One Canadian study focusing on seniors aging in place found that even five minutes of weekly video conferencing interaction with family over a three month time span alleviated depression symptoms and loneliness. Similarly, for individuals with IDD or Autism, after the initial introduction to the technology, connecting with a staff or family member online via a video conference becomes a way to read stories together, play games, or just talk.
Additionally, research is now being done by long-term care and assisted living facilities in the use of companion robots to ease loneliness for their residents. Sophisticated robots, like the ElliQ, are specifically used for engagement and social companionship. Some robots tell jokes, some play music, while others offer mindfulness exercises or play exercise videos to keep seniors engaged, thinking, smiling and moving.