FROM TERRI JOHNSON, HeART PROJECT & ANGELA CLOSE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Antigo, WI, July 2020 – The Building a Healthier Langlade County HeART Project and Langlade County Economic Development Corporation, with support from UW-Madison School of Nursing and Aspirus Langlade Hospital, has partnered to launch an assessment survey of internet and technology availability and usage in the homes of Langlade County rural residents.
“We so often hear that technology is a barrier for our older adults, but there isn’t the data to support exactly who has, doesn’t have internet as well as who wants, doesn’t want internet. We hope this survey can aid us in better quantifying what the needs are for our older adults,” said Terri Johnson, Coordinator of the HeART Project. HeART stands for “healthy aging in rural towns,” and is grant-funded through September 2021.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, all residents have had to use technology in ways they might not have before, such as communicating with doctors, online education, working from home, using video conferencing, etc.
“It is not just businesses that become economically challenged by low bandwidth; all of our residents need to have consistent and up-to-date internet to handle technology at home for all family members,” said Angie Close, Executive Director of the Langlade County Economic development Corporation.
Approximately 4,300 surveys were mailed to residents with rural homes in Langlade County. Surveys began to arrive in mailboxes the first week of July. The surveys will take less than 10 minutes to complete and respondents are asked to return their survey by August 1 in the self-addressed stamped envelope.
The questions on the survey ask respondents about internet access in the residence, as well as the kinds of technology devices a person over the age of 65 might have or be interested in having.
“We hope to use the data collected to pursue federal funding for infrastructure upgrades to our broadband. That’s why it is so important people take the time to complete and return this survey,” added Close. From Johnson’s perspective, this data can also be used to pursue funding that will assist older adults in staying connected at home, such as a computer, helping to reduce factors such as isolation and loneliness in our rural older adult populations.