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computers, internet and social networking

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computers, internet and social networking

Tackling Covid-19’s social isolation of seniors – one tech at a time

Saving seniors from Covid-19 means worsening isolation. In an article in the NY Times, Paula Span’s title said it all: Just What Older People Didn’t Need: More Isolation. The article attempts a number of references to mitigation, including the use of GrandPad in two Pace programs. These are compelling, but the overall story is about the oldest on the wrong side of the Digital Divide, which is notable and particularly pitiful in settings like nursing homes, Note in the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 guidance about nursing homes, at the very end, authors acknowledge the risk of social isolation and make a few (lame) recommendations. These do not include, unfortunately, providing usable technologies to connect isolated seniors with families. What might they be to help with loneliness? Here are six that businesses and non-profits serving older adults should provide for each of their constituents. Please nominate another six -- especially consider those with dementia.

Reinventing old age? Some MIT tech assertions are simplistic

MIT Technology Review’s "Old Age is Over" is thought provoking.  Or in the case of the technology section – "Old Age is Made Up," written by Joe Coughlin, head of the MIT Age Lab, the content is just plain provoking. We agree that old age is made up – but in this article, that assertion is underpinned with generalizations that are just, well, also made up. And it shows a lack of understanding about who benefits from technologies that exist in their current form, or that some of those have been upgraded well beyond his generalizations.  Consider:

Older adults and screen time – what’s it mean?

Pew’s latest examined screen time for older adults.  The highlight of this document published in June – from age 60 to 80 and beyond, older adults spend more time on their screens (watching TV or videos) than on anything else other than sleep. And that includes time spent working. And one other interesting tidbit – 40% of those in their 60s are still working, which of course includes the un-retired. But 14% of people in their 70s are still working, according to Pew, along with 4% of people in their 80s. The report also notes that 73% of the 65+ are Internet users, and 53% are smartphone users.  As with the younger population, reading and socializing time has ticked down.

Tech adoption grows for older adults -- why?

In 2019, Tech adoption changes -- some.  It’s known as the Amazon effect. As brick-and-mortar based businesses dwindle in favor of online, access to smartphone and broadband are becoming the enablers of information flow to older adults.  Pew Research helps us understand who, what, and possibly why people buy and own technology. Non-users, particularly broadband, are thus on one side of the so-called digital divide.  The latest Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019 report reveals a change in the role of smartphones, particularly as a sole device for connecting to the Internet – 37% of responders to this year’s survey go online primarily using a smartphone, with 58% of 18-29-year-olds saying they mostly go online that way, though that number dropped to 15% for the 65+.   

Technology non-adoption of the oldest – it’s a bug, not a feature

Not adopting tech -- it's not okay. Lacking access to smartphones, Internet, in-home broadband/WiFi cuts oldest out of access to modern telehealth, communication and engagement, in-home sensors, outside-home GPS, fall detection, and device integration with smartphones. The issue of non-adoption, particularly as more health services move online, will become increasingly vexing for service providers of all types. Surveying of the oldest has fallen out of favor, though Link-ageConnect persists, thankfully -- see their 2019 report. But over the years much has been opined about the reasons – so here is some more opining. Rant on.

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