Ms. Neerjah Skantharajah

BSc, BSc

Affiliations: McMaster University Digital Music Lab

Lab Manager, Lab Manager

Research Interests:

Alarm fatigue Seniors' mental health Bridging the intergenerational gap

Brief Bio:

Neerjah's background in Psychology and Music Cognition has given her a unique perspective on the impact that music can have on healthcare. As a Research Assistant at the Music, Acoustics, Perception, and Learning Lab she worked on a project which used different sound profiles to decrease desensitization to medical alarms. She hopes to translate this type of research in the future to combat the issue of alarm fatigue. While completing her undergraduate degree she also volunteered with Fountains of Uke, a program dedicated to bridging the intergenerational gap between seniors and children. This experience exposed her to the living conditions and mental health states of seniors living in retirement and long-term care homes. As a result, she is passionate about finding ways to improve the quality of life of those living in LTC and retirement homes. She hopes to continue following healthcare issues that spark her interest and working towards solving them with the skills she learns through the TRP.

Capstone Project:

Social isolation is a significant public health concern in the senior population. The National Seniors Council defines social isolation as “a low quantity and quality of contact with others, [that] includes number of contacts, feeling of belonging, fulfilling relationships, engagement with others, and quality of network members”. Social isolation can lead to worsened health outcomes including an increase in falls, depression, heart attacks and strokes as well as increased healthcare costs. Current events and research strongly indicate a need for social connectedness in seniors to increase their physical and mental well-being. The Health and Wellness programs at Etobicoke Services for Seniors (ESS) are an opportunity to facilitate social connectedness; however, due to the challenges created by COVID-19, the creation of effective virtual programming requires translational research methods. The goal of our project is to work in collaboration with ESS Support Services to create virtual programming that addresses the need for social connectedness in seniors. Through our collaboration, we will incorporate the perspectives of users (seniors) and facilitators (staff), which will be essential in approaching this problem holistically.

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