More Seniors Are Embracing Technology. But Can They Use It? UCSD Researchers Suggest Asking Them.
We’re told older adults are embracing technology more than ever. And there’s no doubt that inventors in the digital space are scrambling to find ways to market their platforms and tools to them. (Think high tech wearables that monitor everything from blood pressure to daily steps taken, screen magnification, talk-to-text and even assistive domotics and home robots.) Still we all know at least one older person who can barely text let alone maneuver mobile apps. So while they may be purchasing laptops, smart phones and tablets and all of the possibilities they intend, many older adults say they still don't feel confident about using them.
A recent study published in the journal Healthcare analyzed older adults’ perspectives on technology intended to allow them to stay in their own homes longer, so-called “aging in place.” According to the lead author of the study, Shengzhi Wang of the Design Lab at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), researchers found that many times “frustration” with new technology made older adults unsure of their ability to use it, leaving them unmotivated to even try.
“Frustration appeared to be a significant barrier, which led to a lack of self-confidence and motivation to pursue using the technology,” Wang wrote.
7/28/2019The study was part of a UC San Diego Health Sciences project on technology-enabled health research. Researchers convened two focus groups at a local retirement community in August of 2018 to explore both barriers and facilitators to technology adoption as well as privacy concerns and any interest participants may have in helping companies design the technology that could serve them.
The research can't come soon enough. A recent Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that Americans ages 60 and older—a group increasingly populated by aging Baby Boomers—spend more than half of their daily leisure time (just over 4 hours) on their TVs, computers, tablets or other electronic devices. “Screen time has increased for those in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, and the rise is apparent across genders and education levels,” wrote Pew’s Gretchen Livingston. “This rise in screen time coincides with significant growth in the adoption of digital technology by older Americans. In 2000, 14% of those ages 65 and older were internet users; now 73% are. And while smartphone ownership was uncommon at all ages around the turn of the 21st century, now about half (53%) of people 65 and older are smartphone owners.”
So apparently the problem isn’t owning them, it’s using them. And often that's because there is no input from older adults on their design. “Most older adults prefer to age in place, and technologies, including Internet of things (IoT), Ambient/Active Assisted Living (AAL) robots and other artificial intelligence (AI), can support independent living,” the authors of the UC San Diego study wrote. “However, a 'top-down' design process creates mismatches between technologies and older adults’ needs.”
Source: Forbes Article by Robin Seaton Jefferson, Contributor 7/28/2019
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