Older persons and new technologies: A smart mix

8 Apr 2019 16:30h - 18:15h

Event report


Mr Raymond Saner (Co-Founder, Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development CSEND) set the background of the discussion on how the older population can effectively use information and communication technologies (ICTs). He provided some global statistics – by 2030 the number of the aged population over 60 will grow by 56 %. This urges us to think about how to improve the digital literacy rate among the older population and enable them to have healthy ageing. ICTs can contribute to the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables the wellbeing of the elderly.

The moderator was Ms Roxana Widmer-Iliescu (Senior Programme Officer, ITU).

The next speaker, Dr J. Alison Bryant (Senior Vice President, AARP Research) introduced her organisation that empowers people to choose how to live their 50+ age. AARP works in three main areas, health security, financial resilience, and fun and fulfilment. For all these areas, AAPR tries to harness ICT tools to ease the way they help their members. It means more inclusive design and better user experience with their services, as well as measurable impact at the scale of their activity. Among examples of ICT opportunities for older people, Bryant mentioned sharing economy platforms, VR tourism, monitoring services, assistive robotics, online learning platforms and teleworking. Finally, she provided the recent case of win-win collaboration among Apple, private insurance companies and customers – the Apple Watch as a medical device with health monitoring features, as well as emergency button alerts. People can save on regular visits to clinics while insurance can concentrate on those who are still not using this technology.

Mr Alfonso Di Ianni (Oracle Senior Vice President; Head of LongLifeJoy for Seniors) provided a positive view on the meaning of ageing. While the issue is generally tackled through the prism of public policy and high costs for social expenditures, Di Ianni talked about the aged population as a source of knowledge and experience they want to contribute to the society in general. He also pointed that in spite of a lot of technology around us, it does not bring happiness to the aged people per se. One of the reasons is that technology is designed by young population that has a completely different lifestyle and temp of living that is not matching the needs of older people. LongLifeJoy is the digital community of seniors that designs social media tools for seniors. In addition, he warned that it is not correct to lock seniors up in their communities; on the contrary, there is a need to find a way to transfer their experience to the youth.

Dr Bénédicte Défontaines (Neurologist, Director of réseau Alois, Head of French Institute for Dementia) talked about dementia, the disease that affects cognitive abilities of people among older population in mostly developing countries. There is no cure for dementia, but its development could be slowed down if the disease is diagnosed at early stages. Défontaines noted that general practitioners sometimes fail to diagnose it until it is too late. Here is also a space for the ICT use – she founded the Aloïs network that offers remote and face-to-face comprehensive cognitive consultations that enable patients from poor and remote areas of France to get a competent help. In addition, her network provides special video-conference training for physicians form French-speaking countries to increase the expertise in diagnosing dementia at early stages.

Finally, Mr Cyrus Mechkat (architect, Designers of Environments for Older People) spoke about architect solutions that unite information, communications and adjustable living spaces for older people. He described how the circles of activity are reducing with age, but the living space now should accommodate the new needs – a space for the caregiver and smart solutions for the house maintenance. Mechkat introduced a concept of such a smart module house with flexible spaces that can change their functions to meet the needs of the owner.

By Ilona Stadnik