The Cuatroochenta Chair in Artificial Intelligence, Health and Well-being has carried out a study with the support of the Dávalos-Fletcher Foundation with the aim of evaluating psychological well-being, loneliness and social isolation, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and other health-related variables in people over 50 years of age in Castelló de la Plana. To do so, they developed and passed a telephone survey to a sample of 240 people representative of the city's older population.
As for the results of the study, it was observed that, as a result of the health crisis caused by COVID-19, 62% of the people surveyed increased their use of applications and social networks to communicate with family or friends. These technologies were perceived as useful tools to keep in touch with their loved ones by 75% of the participants. It is of particular interest that among those who made more use of ICTs for socialising, there was less social fragility. Given that ICTs may have been so important in adapting to the new situation and in maintaining previous conditions, the digital divide, still present in the elderly, could be a barrier to the personal and social development of this group, being a risk factor for their mental health.
All this highlights the importance of continuing to research and develop technological solutions to reduce the impact of unwanted loneliness, especially in the elderly. In this sense, projects such as SERENA, a chatbot developed by the Chair's team whose objective is the early detection of unwanted loneliness, can help us to intervene early and avoid the negative consequences of unwanted loneliness for physical and psychological well-being. On the other hand, digital literacy of older people is necessary for them to be better connected with their families and friends, but also with health services, institutions and the administration.
The telephone survey was carried out between October and November 2021. The results of the study have been published in a book by the Dávalos-Fletcher Foundation 'AI and conversational assistants in the evaluation of the quality of life of older people in Castellón and its application to the alarm situation caused by Covid-19'.