Whitehall Library kiosk helps seniors self-monitor health
Senior citizens looking for ways to better manage their health through self-monitoring can head to the Whitehall Public Library for help.
A health kiosk, featuring a seated scale and ways to measure blood pressure, pulse and grip strength, now sits in the rear of the library as part of a research study led by the University of Pittsburgh.
“It’s an educational tool and a way to learn strategies,” said Judith Matthews, research associate professor of nursing. “The idea was really to enable older adults in a way that’s safe for them. We really wanted to make this accessible to people in a place they might gather.”
Since the study launched in 2014, health kiosks have been placed in senior centers across the region, with 230 people enrolled thus far.
Today, they are in eight locations seniors frequent. The health kiosk made its debut at Whitehall Public Library in January. It is the only library in the county to have one.
“We always strive to be at the forefront of offering new services,” said Brandon Taper, adult services coordinator. “That’s the purpose of the library: to give access to every part of the world.”
The goal of the study is to learn if older adults will use a multi-user health kiosk allowing them to self-monitor and self-manage aspects of their health. However, it’s open to anyone 21 years of age and older.
Researchers also hope to learn if providing modules — or class-like features users can engage with on their own to learn about various health issues — makes a difference in the lives of older adults, Matthews said.
Study participants can stop by and use the kiosk whenever they have time. Matthews recommends they visit once a week.
Participants are asked to complete surveys and record their vital signs and weight after they’ve been participating in the program for six, 12 and 18 months.
The kiosk then recommends modules from which participants could benefit.
One module helps participants with setting personal goals and learning ways to better communicate with health care providers.
Participants also can learn diet and exercise tips.
The sleep module provides participants with take-home monitoring equipment. The lifestyle module comes with a food scale, pedometer and fat/calorie counter book.
“We’re trying to get them to change behaviors so that they feel better, sleep better and eat better,” Matthews said.
To sign up for the health kiosk, simply stop by the library at 100 Borough Park Drive. More information is available at whitehallpubliclibrary.org.