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Providing a Purposeful and Stimulating Volunteer Opportunity for Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Study.
Piette JD, Roberts JS, Marinec N, Chen J, Yon S, Maly M, Swalwell K, Hampstead B. Providing a Purposeful and Stimulating Volunteer Opportunity for Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Study. Alzheimer disease and associated disorders. 2023 Apr 1; 37(2):149-151.
Social interactions have cognitive and emotional benefits for older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The prevalence of loneliness and isolation in this population has been repeatedly noted, but interventions remain limited. We designed a program to connect older adults with MCI with an engaging volunteering opportunity, through videoconferencing conversations with another adult practicing English (English language learner). Ten MCI-English language learner pairs had conversation sessions over 6 weeks. We tracked session engagement, monitored conversations, and interviewed participants at follow-up. Pairs completed 78% of scheduled sessions; only 7% were missed because the MCI participant canceled or failed to appear. Qualitative interviews suggested that participants felt comfortable and engaged. No negative experiences were observed or reported. This program is feasible and potentially desirable for older adults with MCI. This model is interesting given the concern about in-person volunteering risks, and the millions of people motivated to improve English fluency.