Date Published:2016 Apr 6
PURPOSE: Elders in retirement communities face many challenges concerning information and communication. We know little about whether or how online technologies help meet their medical and social needs. The objective of this study was to gain insights into how these elders and their families manage health information and communication. DESIGN AND METHODS: Qualitative analysis of 10 focus groups with elders and family members. Participants were 30 elders at least 75 years of age residing in 5 senior living communities in and near Boston, MA, and 23 family members. RESULTS: Elders and families turned first to their personal networks when they needed information or help. They stayed informed about elders' health primarily by talking directly with providers. They used online resources infrequently, including portal access to medical records. They wanted online access to medication lists and visit notes, up-to-date information about local services and social activities, and a way to avoid the overwhelming nature of Internet searches. IMPLICATIONS: Elders in senior living communities and their families piece together information primarily from word of mouth communication. In the future, electronic social and collaborative technologies may make information gathering easier.