Aging and Embracing Technology

Young adults tend to adopt innovations faster. This has been true of digital technologies since the Pew Research Center began documenting how Americans use these tools, but in some key instances older adults are closing the gap with young people and adopting these tools themselves.

One of the more widely touted benefits of technology to ageing is “aging in place”, or keeping older adults living independently for as long as possible without residential care and reduced costs. A growing body of research suggests that technology can play an integral role in this goal by offering ways for older adults to stay connected, healthy, and cared for in their own homes longer.

Recent research revealed that technology use among older adults varies considerably; some reported being unable to use their computer at all, while others were able to accomplish most tasks with high levels of satisfaction. According to this research, successful products and services for aging in place must take individual differences in abilities, attitudes, experiences and contexts of use into account.

Psychologists working at the intersection of psychology, technology and aging focus heavily on designing technology that older adults want and can successfully use. Georgia Tech’s CHART lab takes this initiative head on by gathering faculty and students from psychology, community health, engineering architecture and public health – in particular challenging stereotypes regarding older adults’ incapacity with technology as well as assumptions they only desire simplistic designs.