Lighthouse for Older Adults

Elderly couple looking at tablet together

Connecting Seniors Living in Affordable Housing to Family, Friends and Vital Services

About Lighthouse for Older Adults

Why Lighthouse?

Americans aged 65 and older are less likely to have access to broadband internet connections at home than other age groups. For those with low incomes, the digital divide is even more stark. 

Broadband access may have been inconvenient and isolating before COVID-19, but during the pandemic it became a literal lifeline, as millions depended on this form of connection for everything from health care to social connections and diversions, to deliveries of food and medicine.

Lighthouse for Older Adults Overview

Working in partnership with Eskaton and Front Porch, senior living providers in Northern and Southern California, Lighthouse researchers conducted focus groups with residents and staff to identify barriers to technology use. High rates of social isolation, limited access to needed care (especially for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and arthritis), limited literacy and education levels (in English as well as other languages), cognitive and vision/hearing challenges, and a lack of infrastructure and comfort with technology all surfaced during these discussions.

Current Lighthouse Activities

To address these barriers and test potential solutions, the team created a train-the-trainer and peer-to-peer buddy system. The training options incorporate focus group insights such as addressing the needs of bilingual learners with varying levels of comfort with technology.

What’s next?

An ongoing evaluation will help point to next steps, but some key sustainability challenges are already evident. Even though there is wide agreement that broadband access is a must-have utility and no longer optional, this does not solve the public policy challenges of who is responsible for funding and installing it in equitable ways.

California’s attention to broadband and telehealth issues may yield solutions relevant to other states. The project also aims to generate multilingual and culturally relevant technology-enabled interventions, while continuing to advance peer-supported digital literacy.

Project Partners

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CITRIS and the Banatao Institute

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS) create information technology solutions for society’s most pressing challenges.

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Front Porch

Front Porch is a not-for-profit organization that serves individuals and families through full service retirement, active adult communities and affordable housing communities.

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Eskaton

Eskaton has been a community-based non-profit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of seniors in the Sacramento region. Offering a diverse family of choices and options, ranging from home-based services to a variety of campus communities, Eskaton has something for everyone.

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Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP)

The Center for Connected Health Policy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to maximize telehealth’s ability to improve health outcomes, care delivery, and cost effectiveness. Our expertise in telehealth policy was recognized in 2012, when we became the federally designated National Telehealth Policy Resource Center.

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CDW Healthcare

CDW Corporation is a leading multi-brand provider of information technology solutions to business, government, education and healthcare customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

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Decimal.health

Decimal.health brings several decades of deep experience in digital health, provider & payer systems to help develop strategies that accelerate the launch and growth of businesses and maximize their impact.