Aging in the Digital World

December 22, 2022

We often see the elderly struggle with video calls, emails, or anything related to technology in holiday advertisements. It is a reality reflected in all these commercials. A child teaching them a new app on their phone and showing them how to make things easier using technology is an age-old trope used by marketers every year. But with the availability of various types of technology at our fingertips, an important question needs to be asked: Are we leaving older adults out of the digital age?

The Aging Population

As the number of people reaching retirement age increases at the highest rate in recorded history, aging has emerged as one of the most pressing concerns on the international agenda. Today is the first time that the population of people aged 60 and over is bigger than children under the age of 5.

In 2020, it was anticipated that 727 million individuals aged 65 or older would be living around the globe. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs World Population Ageing 2020 Highlights, this number is expected to reach 1.5 billion by the year 2050, and it is anticipated that all regions will see an increase in the size of their older individuals by the same year. Moreover, this growth will occur in all regions. Everyone harbors a dream of living a long, healthy, and contented life.

The advent of the digital era has made possible a plethora of exciting new options for people of all ages to age with dignity, participate as engaged citizens who can fully enjoy their rights, and contribute their knowledge and experience to enrich their communities. Over many years, those of older generations have been seen as a disadvantaged population and even as a weight on those of younger generations.

Can Older Adults Catch Up?

Digitization and digitalization efforts can help transform older persons into valuable contributors and strong economic drivers. This can only happen, however, if governments, industries, companies, and entrepreneurs recognize the possibility provided by the silver industry and stay on top of it.

Digital transformation plays a crucial part in empowering an aging population and establishing surroundings conducive to promoting healthy conditions and overcoming the obstacles of becoming older. If goods and services are built considering older people's needs and requirements, technology can become a facilitator for the social inclusion of older people.

For everyone to adapt to the times, technologies must be accessible. This means they must be designed to meet the requirements and capabilities of as many people as possible, including an increasingly elderly population. For anything to be inclusive, unique platforms and new methods of getting together must be accessible to everyone.

Accessible technology makes it possible for older adults to adapt. Accessibility simply means better instructions and intuitive designs. Every interested party needs to consider the possibility that the rapid pace at which technology and technologically specialized language evolve may affect the capabilities of older people to interact with technology.

What Can We Do?

Encouraging a culture of active and healthy aging is necessary, and fostering access to, and use of technology among older people is fundamental for attaining digital literacy. Even though people, in general, are getting more knowledgeable about technology, there is still a clear digital gap between older and younger persons. This category often pertains to particular aspects of newly developed technology that entered widespread usage after the generation of older people had already reached maturity.

Older people will need help adjusting to the new features and capabilities of newly created technology. Instead, they could stick with the technology available to them when they were younger, even though more advanced versions of that technology have since been produced. As a result, the "digital divide" is a shifting goal that adapts to new circumstances with each new generation.

The widespread use of technology is essential to ensure that older adults have access to digital information. A solid foundation in digital skills is necessary for success in practically every facet of business and life. It is impossible to find a profession or duty that does not involve at least a fundamental level of digital functioning, whether communicating for business reasons or filling out a digitized government form. 

Utilization of educational services leads to an improvement in the quality of aging. Educational programs and training are often the most effective when introducing new technological items. Training will play a role as an underlying strategy that will assist older people in adopting technology.

Policies that attempt to familiarize older people with the Internet need to consider the various lifestyles and approaches to education that older people have. Building self-assurance and overcoming apprehension about using emerging technology should be the primary emphasis of educational programs. As well as instructional help, there is a need for unbiased and empathetic sales guidance on the gadgets and packages that are the most appropriate fit.

The patience to teach technology is the most beautiful gift you can give your grandparents this holiday season. Teach them what digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation genuinely mean. Technology is here to stay, whether we like it or not. Let’s not leave our older population out of the digital age. We can all adapt.

Happy Holidays!

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