Technology and ageing: Beyond the Screen


On Thursday evening, I went to a fascinating event at Digital Catapult Brighton called Tech Beyond the Screen: Positive Ageing.

It was to stimulate debate and discussion about how we can use technology in the social care sector to improve both older people’s lives, but also those who do the caring.

The care industry is a hugely underfunded area. People who work as carers either in a care home or visiting older people in their own homes don’t do it for the money: as Eric Kihlstrom from KareInn pointed out, you could get more money flipping burgers at McDonald’s or stacking shelves ar Asda. Continue reading “Technology and ageing: Beyond the Screen”

Why reaching the digitally excluded is more important than ever

Older woman on a computer
CC image courtesy of Simon Vorgrimmler on Flickr
Amid all the bad news, there was a positive story today, as new figures reveal that the UK economy is the most internet-based of all the G20 countries.

The internet now contributes to 8.3% of the UK economy – roughly £2,000 per person – and that figure is set only to rise.

By contrast, today sees the start of Age UK’s annual myfriendsonline week – an event geared around helping older people discover the social side of the internet (Admission: I work for Age UK, so I have a vested interest).

While the two are not inextricably linked, the ever-increasing importance of the internet to our economy – 13.5% of transactions were carried out over the web in 2010 – makes the number of people who don’t have online access even more shocking.

There are currently 8.2 million people in the UK who are digitally excluded (of which 5.7m are people in later life). This number has dropped from 10m in 2009, largely thanks to the efforts of RaceOnline and its associated partners, but there’s still a lot to do.

Of these 8 million people, there will inevitably be some deliberate refuseniks, who want nothing to do with it, but, at Age UK, we know there are consistent common reasons that, specifically, put older people off getting online. They are:

1. Not knowing ‘how it works’

2. Lack of confidence

3. Worry about ‘doing something wrong’

4. Safety and security issues.

There is also a fear that once they learn how to use the internet, it will take over their life and they will ‘waste time’, rather than doing ‘real-life activities’, such as socialising.

The benefits of being online seem obvious to those of us already here and who are tech-savvy, but imagine how you’d cope without it now.

Try to think of a world where you don’t have a smartphone – just one that makes calls and sends texts. You have no laptop at home or no PC at work – no social media, no emails, no ecommerce. Scary isn’t it?

That’s why it’s so important to help those people who aren’t online make the jump.

You know you’re getting old when… Part 4: Glasvegas

GlasvegasI was sitting at my desk last week when my much younger work colleague Charlotte came back from lunch in a state of high excitement.

‘Omigod!’ she squealed. ‘I’ve just seen Glasvegas in the canteen!’

My immediate reaction was ‘Glaswho?’ And then I quickly realised that I am yet again losing touch with modern popular culture.

Glasvegas for all you other suitably wizened readers are a popular Scottish beat combo who are rather cool and hip with the young music-listening fraternity.

Naturally, since I heard the name Glasvegas I have seen them everywhere – albums reviewed in newspapers, referenced on TV, posters… still haven’t heard their music, though, and I would NEVER be able to recognise them if they sat next to me in the staff canteen!