Older People & Technology – a social need, an economic opportunity?

Older people and technology- a social need, an economic opportunity? Is an inclusive digital era the answer to our economic woes? Meeting the needs and aspirations of older people with digital technologies could spur a significant growth in Europe’s knowledge economy.

Read the full article that discusses older people and technology: AgeingICT_final

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6 Responses to Older People & Technology – a social need, an economic opportunity?

  1. Technology is social need for all whether young or old

  2. Philip Virgo says:

    The over 55s control over 80% of the disposable earnings and wealth of the EU. Until the ICT industry is sufficiently desperate for revenue to consder meeting their need for access routines that are fit for them to use, nothing will happen. Until the politicians are sufficiently desparate for their votes to ensure that public sector services can be accessed over those routines, if necessary via inter-mediaries who are trusted by the citizen, nothing will happen. It has all been said time and again over the past thirty years. My guess is that the solutions are about to come out of the Chinese need to “honour” their own aging population, not the youth obsessed technolophiliacs of the west.

    Philip Virgo – Secretary General, EURIM – also chair of the stream on the ethics of public sector on-line systems at the Commission Social Inclusion symposium in Bled last year.

  3. Pat McVey says:

    At what point does a person become “old”?

    As a 63 year old who has worked with IT as it has developed over the course of my working life I not only appreciare the potential of the technology but actively use it where possible to be included in the song of life.

    I might well be part of an advance guard of a new coming elder generation that has grown up with IT and where the demand will change from “how to” to “why can I not”? Services that are delivered in a modern fashion will survive, those that can be and are not, will fail.

    I believe one of the barriers to progress with those in the older age bracket (65 plus?) is that it is not about “technology” but the use that technogy can be put to. But mention “IT” or “technology” and eyes glaze over.

    We maybe need to put more emphasis on looking at the Intelligent Use of Modern Developments in order to focus only on what the technolgies can deliver so that the eyes of users and potential service providers do not glaze over.

  4. Naseem says:

    I would like to see the debate around ICT and age go wider than the current focus on health and the savings that various mechanisms could deliver to the state. The importance and impact of involvement/connection has been demonstrated time and again in a number of studies – whether that is via voluntary work or simply with a person’s own pets. It has been shown to stimulate, reduce stress and can even grow happiness. In an ideal world, ICT would be a means by which older people could contribute their life experience to society around them.

  5. An interested party says:

    There was an event in the EU Parliament on “A new vision of Ageing in Europe: the contribution of ICT” on 6/10/09 that some readers might be interested in. Some points to emerge were:

    Vivienne Reding, EC IT Commissioner, gave an excellent opening address which focused on the political realisation at EU level that we had to find a way of using technology to assist in care delivery.
    She stressed the amount of money the various programmes were offering up to fund research, development and introduction of new technologies, saying that the EC ‘leveraged’ €1bn funds between now and 2013.

    Her agenda for the day was how to:
    o Raise awareness of the already possible;
    o Overcome interoperability hurdles;
    o Step up investment;
    o Give priority to combining IT & other services to create great new business models

    Major suppliers, the only people chosen to give formal presentations, were apparently asked to give what were effectively PowerPoint presentations of their product catalogues. The chestnuts of greater EC funding to kick start the market, less regulation etc. were there too. (One supplier even extolled the virtue of pendant technology, and complained about very low telecare penetration in their own domestic market.)

    Other participants, including those funded by the EC, were only able to hand out papers or give away freebies, such as the umbrellas kindly offered by one project which were much appreciated as it was pouring with rain by the end of the event.

    Intel classified the upcoming problems well as:
    o Decreasing working age: retired ratio (now becoming 2:1)
    o Medical skill shortage
    o Increasing cost of medicines

    Cisco pointed out that only 40% of those in the 55-64 age group in the EU were still employed so Cisco’s focus was on helping people to get back to work, either paid or voluntary – lovely strapline of “cool technology to support more hands”

    In summing up the event, Rodd Bond panned a significant amount of gold from the morning’s proceedings with the following, (reorganised to start with the comments that appealed to this writer most):

    o Older people are the solution not the problem – take that attitude and you will succeed;

    o Equipment needs designing in the context of the wide diversity across Europe – in particular it’s important to improve the emotional attractiveness of kit;

    o There is an encouraging shift of emphasis from keeping people comfortable in a retirement home to keeping them actively contributing to society in paid or voluntary work;

    o There is an encouraging move across the EU from treatment of acute disease to prevention;

    o Integration and interconnection are still serious problems that need lots of attention (Continua got honourable mentions by many);

    o There is a disturbing fragmentation of both industry and deliverer (an inevitable part of the current product development phase, it could be argued);

    o The evidence is ok, now we need leadership to increase penetration (hmm, alternatively the customer is always right – we need more attractive products and better marketing, and it’s that old life cycle again);

    o Low market penetration needs more regional funding (well perhaps better than spending it on a butter mountain, or free umbrellas);

    o There are lots of things we can do, but aren’t

    Paul Timmers chaired the whole event excellently.

    By the time I’d walked to the Metro station, my EC-funded umbrella had already broken, so perhaps more regional funding for suppliers is the answer after all.

  6. […] We all know that being online presents economic benefits such as greater choice and lower prices etc to online users, but encouraging more older people to participate could also help with ecomonic growth. “Getting older people online and digitally enabled will empower them to reap benefits for themselves but also support finding solutions to sustainable, high quality social and health care for an ageing population. The potential business opportunities are huge, so long as market barriers can continue to be addressed and ethical dimensions are considered in full.” Older people and technology- a social need, an economic opportunity? Dr Gail Bradbrook, Citizens Onl… […]

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