Tuesday, March 26, 2019
The digital divide still exists in Nova
Zealand for elderly people living in residential
A new study funded by InternetNZ shows that
Elderly Care Residents are Dependents of the Family and Friends for
Keep them connected digitally.
are more digitally connected than ever. However, little is
about online social connectivity of older people
after they enter into the aged residential care. Residents are often
omitted from surveys and reports, and their use of digital data
technology remains largely invisible.
dissemination of the internet, age-related gaps in
engagement still exists. A group that is particularly
vulnerable to being excluded are those living in elderly care
environments, "says Dr. Wendy Wrapson, one of the
psychologist at Auckland University of Technology
Dr. Wrapson, Senior Researcher at TUE
National Institute of Public Health and Mental Health
Research, is the lead author of the study, "The Social
Connectivity of older people of residential age
Communities, "which examines the use of digital residents
technologies to stay in touch with people.
shows that family and friends play an important role
supporting and encouraging residents to use
technologies. It is often a member of the family who buys the
device, organizes the wi-fi connection and configures
Software. Even if the resident does not use technology
themselves, family and friends will bring their own devices
to share photos and videos, "she says.
interviewed close relatives and friends of the elderly
people living in a care facility for the elderly or retirement
village. This provided a more diversified sample, including
those with physical or mental disabilities who may have
I find it difficult to communicate your own technology
In all, study participants provided data on
80 elderly residents in Auckland. The residents spoke
had an average age of 86 years. They were predominantly
Europeans and three quarters were women. Almost half of them
they had a cell phone or computer, and their most common
the methods of communication in these devices were called mobile,
text messages and e-mail.
"Family and friends supported
the use of digital technologies as a way of complementing
social contact, rather than replace it. And the frequency
of his personal visits was not affected by the technology
use, says Dr. Wrapson.
The interviewees observed that the elderly
the service facilities rarely provided wi-fi access to the residents.
Moreover, most of them were not aware of
computers available in public areas.
friends have consistently sought to fill in the gaps, but
would like to see older caregivers play a more active role
role in providing access to digital technologies, as well as
In a recent Swiss study where the wi-fi
access was made available free of charge, 14 percent of the
residents used the internet – a rate similar to that of
the same age that lives in the community.
"Some of the youngest
facilities are beginning to meet change
communication needs of its residents. Things are moving.
the right direction, but we still have a long way to go
before computer access is available to everyone. This one
deficit is particularly worrying for residents who do not
have family and friends to support their use of technology, and
who risks being digitally excluded, "says Dr
Study participants also struggled to find
suitable for vision and arthritis
"Technology is largely geared towards youth
market research, but our research suggests that there is an
for developers to meet the needs of the growing
older demographics, "says Dr. Wrapson.
Move to a
Retirement or rest can radically affect
ability to remain socially connected. O
ease is often some distance from the neighborhood where
they have lived and older people can not always travel to
Low levels of social connection
are related to poor health outcomes and higher mortality
risks, together with a significant reduction in the quality of
"Digital engagement later in life does not always
be preferred or possible, but may improve the well-
of the elderly through more frequent social interactions
and better access to information, "says Dr.
InternetNZ provides NZ $ 800,000 in financing
through grants and partnerships to help
Internet development in New Zealand.
chief executive of InternetNZ, says: "This research was
outside, as it addresses a digitally disadvantaged group and
presented an opportunity to investigate the value of
engagement for seniors
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