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Campos W, Marines A et al. A systematic review of proposals for the social integration of elderly people using ambient intelligence and social networking sites Cognitive Computation. 2016; 8: 529–542.
How have ambient intelligence and social-networking-site technologies been applied to the social integration of older adults?
Identifying solutions to address the concerns of the aging population (for example, social isolation, difficulties in living independently, and cognitive decline) has presented a scientific challenge. For example, factors associated with aging, such as cognitive impairments like dementia, can contribute to a sense of social exclusion, of which the associated health risks are comparable to those caused by smoking.
Ambient intelligence (AmI, which refers to the presence of a digital environment that is context- sensitive, adaptive, and responsive to the presence of people) and social networking sites (SNSs) can promote independent living and social integration, improve the physical and mental wellbeing of older adults, reduce the chances of developing cognitive decline, and ultimately prevent comorbidities.
The goal of this review is to evaluate the literature focused on how AmI and SNS technologies have been applied to promote the social integration of older adults.
A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published from 2002 to 2014 was conducted. Studies that focused on social integration and social isolation, elderly people, ambient intelligence technologies and social-network site technologies were included in the review.
A total of 1,171 studies were identified in searches, and 53 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.
The authors did not acknowledge any funding sources for this review.
The studies included in the review identified ambient intelligence technology as the most effective and frequently used technical tool for providing care, support and social interaction for the elderly population. Nevertheless, social network sites were also shown to be a successful mechanism for older adults to strengthen emotional integration and connectivity.
The trends of the proposals for AmI and SNS to promote social inclusion were classified into the following categories: promoting independent life, promoting cognitive stimulation, strengthening emotional ties, promoting physical activity, and promoting healthcare through vital-signs monitoring. Of these trends, promoting independent living and cognitive stimulation was the most common goal of introducing AmI and SNS into the daily routine of older adults.
The social integration of older adults can improve quality of life while supporting cognitive, biological and psychological functions. To promote social integration, the studies included in this review identify ambient intelligence technology as well as social network sites as effective tools to engage and include the elderly.
Regarding future practice recommendations, this review highlights social network sites as the favoured integrative mechanism as it is familiar, free and easy for older adults to use.