Peer-to-Peer Aging Parent Info in the Digital Age

A few of the topics studied at Pew Internet -- click to visit the site.

Again and again over the past five years, I’ve chatted with other adult children who are beginning to help out aging parents in a variety of ways. In each conversation I am struck by the degree of information sharing about issues such as medical care, chronic diseases, aging in place, technology, and so much more.

Collaboration among adult children, especially on senior parent health issues, ensures that we benefit from the information and experiences of our peers. More importantly our increased knowledge helps us become better partners with our parents.

Recently I read the Pew report on Peer-to-Peer Healthcare over at the Pew Internet and American Life ProjectIt describes how we seek health information from one another, sharing what we know and pooling our information–just what I’ve found myself doing with other adult children. While this sharing is something that we’ve always done, the report explains how the digital world communities where we spend time make inquiring, sharing, and collaborating easier as we seek health-related information. And it’s exactly how I find myself communicating with other adult children these days.

I’m a fan of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The reports from this organization, on a wide range of subjects that relate to our digital lives, are descriptive, clear, easy to read, and feature large graphs that depict the data collected. The authors collect data by randomly dialing households (random digit dialing).

A past post on this blog mentioned another report from Pew, Seniors and Social Networking.

Susannah Fox, the Associate Director at Pew Internet and one of the researchers who worked on the report, recently presented at the 2011 Medicine 2.0 Congress at Stanford University. This summary of her presentation on peer-to-peer healthcare describes real-life circumstances and calls attention to the dramatic changes in the way people seek and collect health information.

Most Interesting Quotes from the Presentation by Susannah Fox

  • Peer-to-peer healthcare acknowledges that patients and caregivers know things — about themselves, about each other, about treatments — and they want to share what they know to help other people.
  • Peer-to-peer healthcare is a way for people to do what they have always done – lend a hand, lend an ear, lend advice – but at internet speed and at internet scale.

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