Pharm.D. (six years)
Estus, Erica, L
Pharmacy Practice (PHP)
intergenerational; technology; older adults; high school students; college students
As technology continues to advance and become integrated into daily life, a gap in knowledge exists between younger and older generations that is difficult to ignore. Stemming from the release of a 2014 documentary, Cyber-Seniors is a unique intergenerational program offering a solution where students educate older adults to become more proficient using technology. Having the opportunity to take part in this program as a student in the College of Pharmacy inspired the following project.
This project was designed to highlight the value in bridging the digital divide through education, and ultimately create a digital start-up manual for distribution to interested sites in Rhode Island. A special focus was placed on appealing to local high school students to serve as volunteers as this group is a capable population that has previously never been included in the implemented state programs.
I conducted extensive research on different sustainable Cyber-Seniors programs, including The University of Rhode Island’s, to brainstorm the resources to include in a training manual. In addition, I had the opportunity to mentor both students from local high schools and URI college students during their introduction to Cyber-Seniors. I offered recommendations from my past experiences, shared resources to facilitate productive meetings with the older adults, kept track of the hours at the respective sites, answered questions, and discussed their ultimate reflections of the experience as a whole.
The implementation of Cyber-Seniors programs offers opportunities for both students and older adult participants to gain valuable skills. High school students can learn how to effectively communicate with older adults, building on their listening, speaking, and problem- solving skills. In addition, through improving their technology skills, older adults learn how to stay more connected with loved ones, pursue personal interests, and assume a more active role in managing their health.
My research and digital start-up manual will assist in the implementation of additional Cyber- Seniors programs in Rhode Island as well as draw further attention to a positive platform for different generations to engage in meaningful discussions while gaining technological knowledge. Ultimately, this unique program can make a lasting impact on the lives of older adults and students in a sustainable way.