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Aging Action Initiative Technology Innovations for Marin Older Adults Aging Action Initiative Technology Innovations for Marin Older Adults

By Lorraine Wilson, Project Coordinator and Damaris Caro, Peer Counselor Lead, Helping @hand

 

In 2022, Marin County plans to implement a program called Help@Hand for older adults ages 60+.

The project will be designed to support older adults in their emotional wellness by providing access to an evidence-based, self-help resource for emotional health and overall well-being, as well as support learning technology safely for those who need it. The self-help technology being offered is called myStrength™ and it is designed to manage distress from life events and challenges.

myStrength™ is a technology-based tool that supports individuals in building resiliency, increasing mindfulness, and balancing emotions and stress. In addition, myStrength™ provides support for common conditions or experiences such as chronic pain, insomnia, alcohol, drug and nicotine use, and depression and anxiety. myStrength™ provides individual assessment and delivers a personalized plan with focus areas and reminders to stay on track.

In 2021, The Help@Hand staff team partnered with a broad range of community organizations to pilot myStrength™ technology and basic technology training with 30 older adults with individualized support from university nurse interns and volunteer Promotores.  Help@Hand services were offered in English and in Spanish.

The impact of the project and the technology was extensively explored with evaluation support from the University of California at Irvine.  

Lessons Learned

Statistically significant reduction in loneliness and social isolation

Participation in Help@Hand was shown to significantly increase confidence in using technology to access health and mental health resources, as well as to reduce loneliness and isolation.  

Other key lessons included learning that partnering with community-based organizations that already have access to older adults and reaching out through trusted others using word of mouth was the most effective way to successfully engage older adults.

Older adults reported changes in their sense of social connectedness and sense of health and well-being due to participation in the program.  

83% percent indicated that using myStrength™ made them feel connected to others

83% thought using myStrength™ improved their mental health

87% thought that because of this program, they were more likely to use technology to support their well being

78% thought that using myStrength™ helped them get access to support sooner than they would have

Digital Literacy

Several of the participants had no prior experience with technology.  Those participants needed extensive, personalized support to access technology in general, as well as to use myStrength™.  

The project sought to measure changes in the attitudes towards digital health tools/technology after digital literacy training.  Many positive impacts were identified, including:

  • Confidence in using technology to support well-being went up from 31% to 73%*
  • Confidence to use technology to look up information went from 42% to 62%*
  • Participants who could use technology for getting health information increased from 33% to 66%*
  • 74% were more likely to use technology to support well being 

*Statistically Significant

Future Needs

Building on the lessons learned from the Help@Hand Pilot, the Marin BHRS team is currently sharing lessons learned and designing programming to best support the Marin older adult community.

Special Thanks for all those who made the Help@Hand Pilot possible, including:

  • The Division of Aging and Adult Services Telehealth Equity Project
  • West Marin Senior Services
  • North Marin Community Services and the Promotores
  • The Help@Hand Advisory Committee
  • Technology4Life 
  • Dominican University
  • The University of San Francisco

Help@Hand in is part of a 14-County innovation project funded by the Mental Health Services Act.