CLL Support Association
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Dr Google can improve older people’s health – if we bridge the technology gap

Dr Google can improve older people’s health – if we bridge the technology gap

Perhaps of particular interest to those with a passion for helping the less IT literate of our community gain access to helpful and accurate health advice, David Tuffley, Lecturer in Applied Ethics and Socio-Technical Studies, School of ICT, at Griffith University and Amy Antonio, Lecturer at University of Southern Queensland, Australia look at the benefits and barriers for the elderly among us in using on-line resources to improve their health.

"With more health information going online every day, it has never been easier to proactively manage our health. The problem is, the people who would benefit the most seem to be using it the least.

Older adults typically have a greater need for health-related information but their health literacy – their capacity to obtain, process and understand health information to make appropriate health decisions – is the lowest among all age groups.

Research shows that only about 3% of the elderly know how to access health-related information. And of those older adults who seek health information online, few are careful to evaluate its credibility. This points to the need for interventions to assist older adults’ use of computers and the internet."

When I look at the membership numbers of CLL forums, I'm well aware that we are only reaching a small proportion of the newly diagnosed by this means. With the median age of CLL diagnosis over 70, that's reflected in our much younger membership demographics as shown by a membership poll. Obviously some of that un-net need is met by more traditional support via posted newsletters and face to face meetings as provided by CLLSA, Australia's Leukaemia Foundation and similar organisations.

And let's not all the carers in our membership - often the children of CLL patients, who take on the challenging task of being an interface for their partner, parent or friend and doing what they can to help. That takes considerably more time than required by those who are able to directly access such on line resources.


Photo: Kookaburras don't seem to hang around long. They drop by, have a good laugh at you (which is a very jolly and joyful laugh that lift your mood) and then they fly off. Usually I just get to photograph an empty branch, but this one was a bit slow getting away from my lens

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