UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Researchers are studying ways to help seniors stay connected through video conferencing technology.

The National Institute on Aging (National Institutes of Health) gave UI researchers an $850,000 grant. Kinesiology and Community Health professor Wendy Rogers and Speech and Hearing Science associate professor Raksha Mudar are leading a team that’s working with to study “Enhancing Quality of Life for Older Adults with and without MCI through Social Engagement over Video Technology.”

Rogers says OneClick, which offers video conferencing like Skype or Zoom, is easier to navigate for older adults because it doesn’t require the extra steps of downloading software. In the first phase of research, Rogers has worked with OneClick developers on making sure icons and directions are easy to follow for people who aren’t as comfortable with technology.

“We’re using this to connect older adults not only to family members, but also to individuals with similar interests,” Rogers says.

She says technology like this can improve users’ health.

“There’s a lot of evidence that social engagement, social interaction, is linked to health outcomes and quality-of-life outcomes,” Rogers says.

The second phase of the study will expand to look at the impact of OneClick on 120 participants in Illinois. UI researchers are teaming up with Clark-Lindsey Village, CRIS Healthy-Aging Center in Champaign and Vermilion Counties and CJE SeniorLife in the Chicago area. They’ll look at how organizations that help older adults can use OneClick for support services.

The grant is funded through the end of March 2022.