Technology is an all-encompassing driving force in modern society, facilitating daily life and serves as the structural backbone our industrial civilization is built upon; unfortunately, there is a large portion of the population that has been eschewed from most of its benefits and conveniences—the elderly. An elderly is defined as anyone who is over the age of 65 in most developed countries with the UN stating that the cutoff as 60 years old. According to World Health Organization (WHO) senior citizens, as a group, are usually ignored when it comes to technology such as computers, phones, and other smart devices simply because people believe that they are too old to learn or use technology. As technology becomes more significant to society, people begin to wonder how the future generations will control, develop, and improve technology, often leaving behind the elderly.
The truth, however, is that the elderly of today were the original developers of some of the most common technology that is used by almost every American today. For example, the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, is technically a senior since he is 67 years old as of 2017. Despite currently being old, Steve Wozniak was one of the first engineers who worked on Apple, demonstrating that sheer age alone is not a determining factor in anyone’s capability of using technology. Furthermore, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is also known for being technologically savvy and forward thinking. Many may say that this is an extreme case, and that the majority of elderly are not capable of learning technology. Although it is true that one’s view point becomes more narrow with the progression of age, teaching the elderly about the usefulness of technology becomes an issue of removing the stigma associated with technology and making the learning curve more accessible and elementary.
An elderly person is usually considered someone from the age of 65 and older, which is similar to the retirement ages in most developed countries. When we think of a person with an old age we think of the disadvantages more than the advantages. Elderly people may face more difficulty in term of visual, physical, or cognitive impairments. As technology is rapidly advancing and new inventions keep sprouting it becomes paramount that we as a society all adapt with it, the elderly being no exception. Elderly people are often excluded out of any technological or Internet related topics because of their limitation in receiving and understanding such information. Fortunately, there is a study being developed for elderly to have access to Internet without hassle. A group of developers are trying to build a web application that provide a simpler and more straight to the point way of accessing the Internet for our senior citizen. The research study was done by Robert and Simon, in regard for a clearer interface they wrote, “No attempt was made to make the more complex functions usable to the elderly and disable. Secondly web applications differ from the traditional, non-browser based e-mail application that Hawthorn used. With a web application there tends to be less functionality and it is generally simpler than that found with traditional software” (Robert and Simon 2007). These dedicate groups of people are trying to work out a solution of web browsing for the elderly and the disabled.
The elderly makes up a large portion of our society and without them we will not be here to experience the benefit of life yet alone any technologies. Often times, we forgot that we will get old one day and we will also face our own impairments. Personally, it is near and dear to my heart that technology needs to be present in an elder life on a regular basis. I was born and raised in a third war country where most elderly were not expose to technology. Due to the fact that we are a third war country, we were so behind on everything. Technology has become so undervalued because that was not the first thing we needed to worry about. An unfamiliarly with modern technology is not limited to the elderly however, some people in my parents’ age or even my age still do not know what a smart phone looks like or how a microwave works. I am so fortunate to be exposed to new technology everyday in my life, and I want everyone to experience the same thing I do especially the elderly.
In the recent years, the elderly has become more knowledgeable with their use of technology. According to the Pew Research Center, “Internet use among those 65 and older grew 150 percent between 2009 and 2011, the largest growth in a demographic group. Furthermore, their 2012 study showed that of those that go online, 71 percent do so daily and 34 percent use social media. The elderly uses these tools to bridge the geographic gap between them and their loved ones far away and as a way to re-connect with friends from a far off time. Studies show that the Internet has become an important portal for reducing isolation, loneliness and other depressive symptoms.” (Anita 2017) The use of the Internet specifically gives the elderly a sense of inclusion. As mentioned in the article, being of old age means facing loneliness that can lead to depression; how wonderful it is if all elderly knows how to use the Internet and connect themselves to the world so they no longer feel sad or alone. We will get there one day, all of us. Not all will have the care from their loved ones, many of us have to go through life alone but if we know to utilize technology in a positive way, life will get better.
The well-being of the elderly is one of my main concerns for our senior citizens that are living by themselves with no access to a caregiver. Without technology, their life could be at risk. According to an article by internetofbusiness.com in-home care helps reduce the cost of the medical bill by five times in comparison to nursing home. Many elders cannot afford to stay in a nursing home facility due to different factors—technology steps in to provide an affordable care for them. Three significant tools for elderly to get immediate assistance are: The Mobile Cloud, The Internet of Things, and Video Calling Technology. Basically, the elderly will use these tools for assistance all from scheduling appointments, ordering medications, to also get in touch with a home care worker remotely in order to get instruction on how to use certain medications. The interconnectivity and sense of belonging is further illustrated by a 2017 study, “As more and more of the population ages and sticks closer to home, the Internet as a support and educational tool becomes ever more important. Technology has greatly ameliorated the potential of our seniors feeling isolated and alone. Let’s help them take advantage!” (Anita 2017) Overall, having hands on technology allows elderly to be independent and get the help when needed.
All in all, technology is more helpful than harmful for our society. Technology gives elderly people the power to become less dependent on others, because they can do the basics on their own. Even though, getting old is not something we look forward to but sooner or later it will happen. Our elders need the most love and attention because they have been giving all of their love and attention to us when we were younger and they deserve to receive it back from us. We should be responsible to keep them up to date and show them the new ways of technology. Like a gift that keeps on giving, when we share our knowledge and show people to use them we will gain more wisdom, and that is what the elderly have.
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“Proposed Working Definition of an Older Person in Africa for the MDS Project.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/healthinfo/survey/ageingdefnolder/en/.
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“New Technology Program Brings Elders and Teens Together.” Blog.passare.com, 19 Jan. 2017, blog.passare.com/2014/09/22/new-technology-program-brings-elders-teens-together/.