The Cohesiveness of Technology in Later Life: Findings from the Technology In Later Life (TILL) Project

Dr Hannah R. Marston (OU), Dr Shannon Freeman (University of Northern British Columbia, Canada), Dr Rebecca Genoe (University of Regina, Canada), Dr Cory Kulcyzki (University of Regina, Canada) and Dr Charles Musselwhite (Swansea University) –

Statistics show Northern Ireland (NI) ageing population (65+ years) has increased between 1974 (11.2%) to 2014 (15.5%). Estimated projections suggest this will reach 24.7% by 2039. Currently, 35,500 people are aged 85+ years, 12,200 (90-99 years) and it is estimated there are 280 centenarians (NISRA, 2016). The use and deployment of technology can assist in social connectedness reducing isolation, online shopping/bills, information acquisition, physical activity and maintaining intergenerational relationships. Between 2014/15, 69% of adults (60-69 years) had access to the Internet, unlike 40% of adults aged 70+ years; moreover, 82% of adults 60+ years owned a mobile phone. Understanding how technology can play an integral role in the lives of older adults has demonstrated the positive perceptions and behaviour to independent living. Literature, focusing on adults aged >70 years living in rural and urban areas, relating to technology use, behaviour and perception is limited. This presentation concerns the international, multi-centred Technology In Later Life (TILL) study derived from the paucity of literature and studies focusing on technology use and behaviour by adults aged >70 years, employed a multi-methods approach. Its findings suggest participants were open to using and accessing different types of digital devices and technologies to enhance wellbeing and social connectedness which included sharing information with family members, communicating with grand/children living long distance and communicating news via the community. Its recommendations propose reducing privacy issues; while providing practical approaches and insights to technology use by older adults. The presentation adds to the paucity of work in the area of technology use in later life and could inform NI policy makers, health/NHS, communities, families and support networks, helping them to understand the barriers and enablers to technology use in later life. It also highlights that further work is needed to explore perceptual and behavioural concepts across these groups, to ensure ageing populations are confident in integrating technology into their lives.

This seminar took place on 14 March 2018

Policy Briefing