An Agent-based System to Strength the Relationships of the Elders and their Families Living Abroad

Marcela D. Rodríguez, Pedro C. Santana, Víctor M. González, Jesús Favela, Ángel G. Andrade

The aging of the population is a phenomenon faced by most nations. Growing old is often accompanied by the loss of close companionship which has been shown may aggravate the cognitive impairment of elders. From a qualitative study, key issues emerged regarding unmet needs of elder’s communication that we propose to address with an agent- based communication system. This is a family newspaper through which seniors and their relatives not only maintain close social ties by sharing information, personal reminiscences and cultural stories, but enable them to exercise their minds through its entertainment section that can help to delay the cognitive decline that elders experience as they become older. The system provides elders with a richer form of communication with their relatives and facilitates their integration into the networks that currently connect members of their families who use e-mail and IM systems to keep in touch with each other. To facilitate the information capture, several autonomous agents help the user to interact with the system which can be accessed by any electronic display with a touch screen, such as a Tablet PC. By means of autonomous agents we have incorporated a reminder mechanism to enable elders and their relatives to preserve and strengthen their relationships. In this paper, we present the study that motivated the development of the electronic family newspaper, and describe its functionality.

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