Aging and Adapting to Technology

Psychology, technology and aging offer exciting research opportunities. One such area is home-based technology development to make life simpler, safer and more engaging for older adults; faculty from community health, psychology, engineering architecture public health working collaboratively in CHART (Center for Healthy Aging and Technology).

As new technology rapidly enters our lives, it is vitally important that we consider its effect on all users – particularly seniors aged 65 or older. Studies have shown that some seniors adapt well to new technology while many struggle. It could be that they are used to using slower methods of doing things and are finding it challenging relearning the way that new tech works.

Other challenges related to new technology products for older adults include communication challenges. Too often, marketing and advertising use language which reinforces negative stereotypes of seniors or paints them in an unfavorable light; education could help bridge this divide by informing older people and their families of the potential benefits of emerging tech products.

Some of these difficulties could be addressed with advances in sensor and display technologies that increase adaptive capabilities of interfaces, for instance by showing tailored interfaces based on individual’s current and future behavior, enabling us to anticipate responses more readily. Furthermore, better understanding how older adults learn could provide insight into how we instruct them how to use new technologies.