Maya Malecki, a junior studying community health with a concentration in health planning and administration, worked with Wendy Rogers, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, and Amy Brown, CEO of CRIS Healthy-Aging Center, to virtually instruct older adults on the use of digital home assistants and investigate the impact that digital home assistants can have on social engagement for older adults living in Champaign and Vermillion counties.
CRIS Healthy-Aging Center is a non-profit organization with a mission to keep older adults safe, healthy, and independent in their own homes for as long as possible through education, health, financial, social, and supportive services. Brown feels this collaboration brings innovation, creativity, and talent to that mission. “Partnerships like this bring value to our community, students, and researchers through the sharing of ideas, innovation, knowledge, and resources that amplify the value of existing services.”
Rogers thoroughly enjoyed having Malecki working in the Human Factors & Aging Laboratory over the summer. “We are so impressed, we have invited her back to continue in the fall and she has been named our Collaboration in Health, Aging, Research and Technology (CHART) intern. Brian Pastor, assistant director of the lab, believes this experience exposes Malecki to all aspects of a research project, including development, team meetings, IRB, and working with participants. “We hope that Maya experiences first-hand the impact that our research has on the community through participation in our research project.”
For Malecki, working on this project has made her feel more connected to the Champaign-Urbana community. “As we begin data collection in the near future, I hope directly interacting with our participants will allow me to gain more perspective on the experience of a CU resident outside the university.”
Learn more about the project by watching Maya Malecki’s research lighting talk.