‘That is a place where I would want to go’: investigating digital nature to enhance social wellbeing among older adults

Josca van Houwelingen-Snippe, Somaya Ben Allouch, Thomas J. L. van Rompay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Feelings of disconnectedness and social isolation among older adults are increasingly recognised as important challenges of our times. Interestingly, nature interaction can stimulate social connectedness and enhance perceived social support, indicating that nature can contribute to social wellbeing. However, nature may not always be around or accessible for older adults. In such cases, digital nature could provide an alternative means for enjoying nature's benefits. To identify limitations and restrictions that older adults experience with respect to nature interaction, and to explore preferences with respect to digital nature and their potential for influencing social wellbeing, two studies are reported: a qualitative study comprising focus groups with Dutch care centre residents (N = 26) and a subsequent quantitative study (N = 200) testing effects of digital landscapes on social wellbeing measures. Findings from the focus groups indicate that opportunities for nature interaction and preferences for digital nature vary with mobility restrictions, whereas findings from the quantitative study testify to the potential of digital nature for enhancing social wellbeing and related emotions. These findings extend research on how (digital) nature interventions can contribute to the social wellbeing of older adults and pinpoint essential nature characteristics important for doing so.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
JournalAgeing & Society
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2022

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