Ageing in a world of technology

Oct 20, 2021 | Aussie Nurse

 

 

On the television we see advertisements of technological devices connecting different generations, the image on the TV screen is of a grandparent who is usually some distance away and with A digital device they tell bedtime stories to their grandkids

 

This image may be true for some people who are older and who are ‘tech savvy’ as they stay connected with using different technologies, yet not all people from older generations are having this kind of experience

 

Technology seems to have accelerated at a great rate as we move away from being paper based to becoming more technological based. Little changes with technology are happening all the time and we just absorb them into our daily lives as they evolve and once integrated it effects so many areas for example- how we shop, work, learn, stay fit, look after our health and even how we are entertained.

Adopting new technologies is essential as on an everyday basis we scan QR codes, in conversations we suggest people to ‘google it’ to look things up on different topics and to receive services we are advised to download apps. For many of us this sounds quite easy and straight forward, yet it still seems as though technology is designed for these that are not older.

With the older generations having seen the world move away from being fully analog to now being in a digital format, I can’t help but wonder if this leaves some in an a world that has just moved too fast for them to keep up with. 

Some difficulties that are faced by older generations with using technology in everyday life are –

  • An older person who struggles to use their mobile phone while trying to text a message
  • Difficulties with remembering passwords to devices 
  • Being uncomfortable to ask others for help when struggling with devices as to not cause anyone annoyance
  • Technologies that are only designed for the ‘able bodied’ & not for anyone with physical challenges such as people with poor manual dexterity (rheumatoid arthritis), anyone who is visually impaired etc

I remember waiting to pick up my car after it was serviced and I observed an older gentleman who came into the showroom to collect his new car he had just brought. The gentleman asked the service person so many questions about the different buttons he had never seen before and that were present in the car, luckily the service person had some time to help and point out the different functions.

With technology being present so largely in everyday life, navigating this may leave some people to lose confidence, be overwhelmed or even intimated. I can now see why some people are resistant to adopting these changes, maybe we are not really designing some technologies for the needs of older people.

A lack of understanding of technology is another barrier that keeps people away from using devices and to break down these barriers is to improve a persons ‘literacy of technology’. When teaching offering some patience to a person who is lacking understanding of technologies may be beneficial, as they are learning things that are new and unfamiliar to them and it is important to reduce any stresses that may be felt by an individual.

The best thing is that anyone can actually learn how to use different technologies with a slower pace of teaching and with particular focus placed on frequently used terminology to help improve knowledge. Also, teaching how to use the basic features of digital devices helps increase a persons overall skills and most important their confidence.

What are the consequences of not staying digitally connected for the older person? –

  • Difficulties with accessing information or obtaining services on areas of health, finance, social & welfare
  • Hard to stay connected with social events, news & local activities 
  • Struggling to stay connected with friends & family, increasing loneliness 
  • Open to the risks of scams, causing financial hardship

Acknowledging the generational gaps and jumping to toddlers, its amazing how quickly and intuitively they are able to navigate the digital world, they are born into a world where technology is already well established.

Basically older generations don’t have any problems with owning technology, its just with how to use it and by prioritising the needs of older people we may avoid adding any unnecessary barriers for a whole generation. Technology offers both a line of communication and connection that is necessary for everyones well being in a changing world.

(Photo by Tiago Muraro on Unsplash)

“Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born”

Alan Kay (Computer Scientist)

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