Many elderly people live alone and many of them suffer from social isolation. Although social isolation is a major health challenge, elderly individuals affected are difficult to reach.
Join-In developed a comprehensive social networking platform for elderly citizens to encourage and support communication and socialising in elderly. Connected to the networking platform and its social portal are
"Memofix", a computer game for the older generations which enhances cognitive abilities and facilitates socialising
a biking exergame that makes the use of the stationary bike enjoyable;
video exercises which allow elderly people to perform age-specific exercises;
video-conferencing that enables bilateral or group conferences. It provides the basis for activities which involve a moderator.
All of these elements support communication and were built to meet the high expectations of a target group that often is little familiar with computers and internet, and who’s physical limitations ask for special requirements concerning usability. The social and gaming platform for the elderly is extensible and holds an infrastructure to enhance the system, allowing game providers to register additional games. The applications can be accessed via PC, or via TV and a set-top box, and some also by tablet.
As many seniors find the use of off-shelf controllers difficult, Join-In developed and prototyped senior-friendly controllers. Demonstrator versions of two more exergames are available, a walking exergame, which trains coordination and a game fostering age-specific exercises integrated in a realistic story called “AntiqueHunt”.
The Join-In social portal and its applications were prototyped and tested by over 100 seniors, aged 70 - 94, in Hungary, Germany, Ireland and Norway. Being able to handle a computer and the social network made the users feel included. They liked Memofix, the exergaming and the exercising videos and found them useful, benefiting mental and physical health. Most users stated that the applications were easy to use and fun to do.
In Hungary the prototypes will be used in routine as part of an integrative social elderly care system.