Stigma and technology
Stigma continues to exist surrounding the ability of older adults to use and interact through technology. However, this is not always the case. Older adults are able to use technology through proper instruction and understanding the risks and benefits.
Many older adults can use technology for financial planning and interacting with others, such as relatives and friends1. Technology has benefits for older adults, in terms of supporting their autonomy and maintaining their health and quality of life2,3. Many older adults prefer using tablets, such as iPads to the traditional computer because of its accessibility features4.
Within research, older adults are able to use technology and are willing to adopt new technologies in their everyday lives3. Older adults enjoy the versatility of technology, including using technology for music, games, and photos. They have also expressed the opportunity to access information quickly and are willing to adopt technology1. Older adults also felt that their cognitive skills could be improved through the use of technology, playing cognitive games, learning a new skill, and learning new terms.
At Marlena Books, we tested our Marlena Books App with persons living with dementia and care partners. Our findings showcase that older adults, even persons with dementia, are able to use technology and our application and enjoy the simple platform. Our most notable feature was the opportunity to incorporate more accessibility features into the app and personalize it to fit their needs.
Throughout this research, it challenges the stigma associated with technology, as older adults are willing to incorporate technology in their lives and are able to use it easily. That being said, it is important to understand the risks of using technology and the internet. Technology make it easy for scams to occur, and the target might be on older adults, who are more trusting and new to technology. Scams can appear as individuals fake identities, creating fake email address and phone numbers.
Ways to make technology accessible
Technology is beneficial for many users as it offers numerous accessibility features. Incorporating these features is as easy as clicking a button. If looking to incorporate some of these accessibility features with your technological device, simply find your settings page and click on accessibility. Many devices allow you to increase the font size, hear descriptions of what is on your screen, incorporate braille, zoom in on the screen, have it read aloud, dictate what you would like to type, and much more. For all accessibility features, review your devices manual.
Some ways to stay safe online are to:
- Notify the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or police if you feel a scammer is contacting you.5 Passing along this information will help keep yourself and others safe from online scams.
- Ask for a person's name, which company they work for, address, and phone number if you have been contacted by someone you might not know. Inform them that you will call them back after checking out their company and business inquiry. If the company is not legitimate, do not respond to them.
- Never provide anyone, especially strangers, access to any form of credit card, banking information, or place of residence online. If you are ordering online from a company, like Marlena Books, ensure that the form you are submitting with your credit card information is safe and secure. This information is usually at the bottom of the page. If you are still concerned, connect with neighbours, family members, or friends to ensure the site is safe or call the company and ensure you are using their secure website.
- Beware that scammers typically say they are from larger companies to gain your trust, but inquiring from your own financial institute first will help you to recognize a scam.
- Create passwords that only you might know. Secure these passwords in a safe spot and do not give others access to them.
- Check with neighbours, family, and friends and ask if they think the situation is high risk.
How to connect with others through technology
There are numerous platforms for tech users to connect with others. These include Skype, FaceTime, emailing, Facebook, etc. Using these platforms helps older adults connect with others over the Internet and stay in touch with those special people in their lives.
The Kitchener Public Library offers tech tutoring courses for individuals to learn how to use technology called Tech Tutors. Follow this website for sessions nearest you. You can either choose to bring in your own device or use one of theirs!
How do you use technology? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Vaportzis, E., Giatsi Clausen, M., & Gow, A. J. (2017). Older adults perceptions of technology and barriers to interacting with tablet computers: A focus group study. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:1687
2. Geraedts, H. A. E., Zijlstra, W., Zhang, W., Bulstra, S., & Stevens, M. (2014). Adherence to and effectiveness of an individually tailored home-based exercise program for frail older adults, driven by mobility monitoring: Design of a prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health, 14(570.
3. Heinz, M., Martin, P., Margrett, J. A., Yearns, M., Franke, W., Yang, H.-I., Wong, J., & Chang, C. K. (2013). Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 39(1), 42-51.
4. Chan, M. Y., Haber, S., Drew, L. M., & Park, D. C. (2016). Training older adults to use tablet computers: Does it enhance cognitive function? Gerontologist, 56, 475-484.
5. Hina, A. (2017, February). More scams using technology, anonymity to target trusting seniors: Tax time brings familiar scheme of con artists claiming to be revenue agents. Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1867810358?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo