An interesting social experiment is being conducted this week by the British foundation Friends of the Elderly (FOTE). Noting that over one million of the United Kingdom’s elderly live in isolation and that one in five older people in the UK see other people less than once a week, FOTE put together a one-week public experiment called Isolation Week. The goal of this event is to increase social awareness about the many implications of isolated living.
Throughout this week, 10 young and social members of the public are being invited to live under conditions which simulate the lives of isolated seniors. To do this, FOTE has confined the participants to their own homes, without any human contact and with only the TV, radio and limited-access internet (no social media sites) for company. The participants are also being asked to use “empathy tools”, special equipment such as gloves and vision-impairing glasses, that help them experience the physical effects of ageing.
The daily thoughts, experiences and frustrations of the 10 participants are being documented on the Isolation Week website, though daily blog postings and video diaries. Participants are also sharing their experiences through one-way Twitter feeds. So far, the participants have expressed frustration at the difficulty of carrying out daily tasks with the empathy tools, boredom and a feeling of a lack of purpose. The feeling echo those of isolated seniors in the UK (see video below).
Take a few minutes to browse through the Isolation Week website and share your thoughts with IAHSA. Do the participant’s feelings surprise you? How are they different/similar to what you would expect? What steps can be taken to address the isolation of seniors?
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