Nene Odonkor

CEO, Swix


This conversation is closed.

How can we make technology more friendly to people in their old age?

I have noticed that it is easy to relate with technology especially if you were born in the Internet or Computer age. But those who were born long before the age started struggle to use it to improve their lives. I think we need to come up with technological designs that take older people into consideration in order for them to reap the full benefit. But my question is, in what ways can this be achieved.

  • Jul 31 2011: I've worked in a public library for most of the last 25 years. In that time I've seen our older patrons continually having to adapt to new technologies. We always have some seniors who are very enthusiastic about new technologies and services and are eager for information about them. They'll attend classes and discuss what they're learning and try and rally their friends to try. Then you have the "Well, I guess I have to" crowd, who will recognize the importance of new technologies but will come to those new technologies grudgingly. Then you have the "My kids bought me this thing, how do I use it?" group. And through it all you have the people who simply cannot adapt to new technologies.

    I think that the key to making technology more accessible to the elderly is to take members from each of these sub-groups and involve them in the design process. And make it a social project- have groups, have them lead the interaction, have them teach you what they need so that you can design products and technologies that will fulfill those needs.
  • Jul 26 2011: My husbands grandmothers is 87, she has a facebook page and writes me the most incredible emails full of pictures, one ton of cute animated gifs and weird quotes she finds on the Internet.

    She wanted to learn to use a computer for ages but until she found a teacher with pacience and support (instead of the - pretty common reaction- "why do you need to do that?") she couldn't do it. No wshe is the queen of Firefox.

    Of course there is room for improvement in technology but I think the key point is to realise that many people in their old age would join the Internet and Computer Age if we let them. They just need some more patience and teachers with good sense of humor.
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    Jul 25 2011: I do not want to appear to be off the wall or impractical here but I really think that we need to work more diligently to bring virtual reality to the elderly. when their bodies are failing them and they are less mobile I think they represent a huge market and appropriate place to put our compassionate research. Why not allow the elderly with mobility issues to travel the world on their limited means through virtual reality. They can revisit the world of the past through the collection of photography and Google world view when it is recreated into a seamless past of places from their memory. With photos of people they can interact together with people who are no longer in their immediate sphere. With the wealth of photos world wide people can visit the places they could only dream about on their budgets from the comfort and safety of their arm chairs without carbon emissions. Virutal reality could be the way to manage the unhealthy eldlery with ongoing medical monitoring so that they could stay in their homes rather than in nursing homes.
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      Jul 25 2011: Good answer. I think we'd all like to fly around in virtual reality, not just the elderly; in fact I'm not sure they'd be so keen, but the kids would love it. I suggested to my grandmother once that she get the internet because she said she was bored, stuck at home; she looked horrified and wouldn't even consider it.
      How does virtual reality prevent the need for nursing home care?
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        Jul 26 2011: Hi Ian, I envision it as an adjunct to nursing home care or a tactic for delaying its need. Rather than simply warehouse elderly people I think putting them into a wired and sensitive environment, either through a garment or through sensors in their rooms would allow greater and better monitoring of their health status and allow them to be more fully cognitively and emotionally engaged with life on their own terms.
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          Jul 30 2011: Yes, I know staying in their own homes is important to many, if not most elderly people, so I think your ideas definitely have a future. I think the important design consideration would be to minimise intrusiveness.
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      Jul 26 2011: Debra - I really love this idea. My father's eyes are failing him and with each new tweak and advance in technology he becomes more disoriented. Simple tasks such as email and banking become very frustrating for him. It's really too bad... I think voice command is a good solution but don't really know where that technology is at in terms of the elderly.

      Interactive software is also potentially a good tool. Personally I can't wait for the day when virtual travel is possible. It may not be the same experience, but it may also be more exhilarating than the realities of travel (airports, jet lag, bad restaurants, etc.)
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          Jul 26 2011: Kate, Talking books are one of the great joys of my existence and I can see just fine! I love them when I am driving and when I am doing housework. For anyone who cannot see well or who cannot devote their vision to reading at that time, they are awesome!
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          Jul 27 2011: Kate, that's absolutely true...However, let me introduce you to my father. He is the posterboy for "You can't teach an old dog new tricks". He has gotten a free recorder and books on tape that he won't listen to, partly because he is so techologically challenged (and visually impaired) that he has trouble pushing buttons... He is also in something of a state of denial when it comes to his vision and aging in general.

          I got him a computer monitor that is 32" and increased the maginfication to 200% but his vision still plays tricks on him and even the slightest change in the desktop set up, email, etc. throws him for a loop. He'd truly be lost without his magnifying glass.

          I love talking books! I don't use them as often as I should (NPR radio usually does the trick in the car). At night I like listening to podcasts but fall asleep and then can for the life of me remember what I listend to the next morning!! So I don't want to waste books that way...

          But I look forward in a small way to a time in my life when my ears will do the "seeing" for me when it comes to books. That way I can save my eyes for beautiful things...
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          Jul 28 2011: I think this is another area for keen researchers. How do we work to help people who are declining to not only accept their losses but thrive in their newly limited lives? Jim, I give you kudos for trying but often a son cannot teach a father. There are issues of wanting to appear strong for your kid confounding the process- old roles get in the way. I think the most inspiring person for any learner is one who is just ahead of them in development (this holds true from child development for sure) and people who have overcome the obstacle we are trying to surmount. Is there someone in your father's sphere that could buddy up with him to show him how they conquored the challenges. Again, though, I admire you as a person for the capacity you always demonstrate to love the people in your life and your students as well.
  • Aug 22 2011: I have taught a few continuing education courses in technology. The biggest stumbling block I found for most older people is simply getting them to understand that they aren't going to break it. Yes things may go wrong, but that isn't the end of the world either. From there, it's all about getting them used to the technology environment.
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      Aug 22 2011: I think that's a lot of people's problem with technology: the fear of breaking it. The more you use a device and the more comfortable you are with handling it, the easier it will be to adopt it.
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        Aug 23 2011: It's a result of Life not having an UNDO command. ;-)
        (Oh how I wish it did at moments.)
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    Aug 10 2011: Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. -Ford
  • Aug 2 2011: I think old people need no technology, they need more valuable than that, it is "our time". They expect a sense of comfort and an "eraser" that could take away their loneliness. They expect to go to places which they enjoyed during their youthful days and meet their friends. Their health makes these almost impossible. try to make it at least VIRTUALLY
  • Aug 2 2011: The old do not need new technologies. They need new interfaces. Let's be honest most of us are creatures of habit. That high powered computer on your desk is used more for browsing than for actual work. The old don't even work, but they have to go though the same motions as extensive users. What you need is a computer connected to a panel of switches with big labels. Switch one for internet, switch another for email, switch another for emergency services. Modern computers and interfaces have removed physical buttons and put menus in hard to find places that require a dozen steps. Even i need to check in the internet to activate my speech recognition. (I studied computer science) How will an old person do it? They won't.. But if you connect the computer to a panel of switches with big labels, any old person with shaky hands, poor eyesight and memory can use advanced features. I don't think the old worry about chick design and the latest trends. They want things that work.
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    Jul 31 2011: Nene, I think you are making the first important step, you are asking the question which indicates that you are prepared to listen to the older people. I am 61 and would class myself as someone in my age group as being somewhat new tech savvy. Keeping up with the high rate of innovation is challenging for many older people, no soon as you have learned something it is being replaced by the next new flavor. Older people will not have the intellectual stamina for this unless there is on hand, cheap assistance to help them learn new systems.

    In addition the technology has to be seen to be useful. On line shopping for groceries with free (or low cost) home delivery would be really useful. Having a system operated by voice command to show family photographs on
    TV and recall aold TV shows and films would be useful. Finally having the ability to receive and respond to family facebook, skype, email through the TV (with voice command) would be equally useful.

    I hope this helps.
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      Aug 5 2011: Thanks for your response. I know it is overwhelming after you have learned something then it is replaced with something new. But one thing you have to keep in mind is that often these things called new are not really new. They are old things repackaged or re-branded differently. I love cellphones and it is easy to get confused as to which phone you want due to the different styles and brands. But what I noticed is you first have to look at what you want to use the phone for and see if it can satisfy those needs. If the phone can, then you can go for it. If a new flavor comes it doesn't mean you have to abandon the one you have.

      For example, this link will take you to a webpage that compares to phones manufactured by HTC. Different look but honestly not much of a difference. So the question will be why jump for the new one (HTC MERGER)?

      You can apply this to any other technology in the world. To summarize. Ask yourself what you want to do. Secondly, find out if the technology you are going for can satisfy all or most of your needs. Thirdly, use it and learn to use it. Often we do not finish using a product then we jump unto a new one.

      I hope this advice helps everyone whether you are old or young.
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    Jul 30 2011: This is a great question and one that I have been working on for a couple years. In my research I have found that non-technical people and especially older people are afraid of technology because it's unfamiliar. The best way to develop technology for this subset of the population is to take things they understand in the present world and weave them into the design of your technology. Meaning, simplify your technology and make it familiar to things they can easily understand. For instance, instead of an unmarked power button on a PC you could make the button look like an ignition key to a car. Everyone knows how to start a car. Another example is software navigation. You could use traffic signs on roads to help explain basic navigation. It's taking the familiar and building your design around those concepts. We as technologists and designers really need to do a better job of recognizing that not everyone knows how to use our technology.
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    Jul 30 2011: CHANGE THEORY

    The question of "How can we make technology more friendly to people in their old age?" may be one area where "change theory" is directly applicable. A good primer on this topic is a paper I recently found: "Comparison of Change Theories" by Alicia Kritsonis (MBA Graduate Student, California State University, Dominquez Hills. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCHOLARLY ACADEMIC INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY, VOLUME 8 NUMBER 1 2004-2005).

    Ms. Kritsonis compares several change theories. All seem valid, yett he one that struck me as most applicable in this case, is Social Cognitive Theory. Quoting from her paper (found at
    "The individual must possess self-efficacy. They must believe in their capability to perform the behavior and they must perceive that there is an incentive to do so."
    "When implementing employee-training programs, there are four processes that should be exercised that can significantly increase the likelihood of success. They include: attentional processes, retention processes, motor reproduction processes, and reinforcement processes. Attentional processes take into account that individuals learn from a model when they can relate to it and pay attention to its details. Individuals are more easily influenced when the model is neat, attractive, compelling, attention grabbing, and relates to something they care about. Retention processes take into account the degree of which an individual can remember the model and its characteristics. Motor reproduction process illustrates an individual converting seeing (observation) into doing. Reinforcement processes are used when an individual changes behavior due to rewards and positive incentives...To be effective, models must evoke trust, admiration, and respect from the observer."

    Food for thought when trying to reach any student, especially the elderly, who often have sensory & memory challenges.

    "Be gentle with your parents." --- Marion Winik
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      Jul 30 2011: Celia, thanks so much for such an informative posting. I love it when people point me in a direction to further my understanding.
  • Jul 30 2011: We recently purchased an Apple IPad 2 for my father in-law. We set it up with only a few apps to begin with. Things like sudoku (he loves to play) and yahoo stock app, so he can easily see what his daily changes are. We also loaded a ton of pictures on it, so he can see the grandkids and family. He wasn't too keen at first...overwhelmed is more like it. He's coming around though. We used the FaceTime app and showed him how to video chat with the grandkids last week and that was awesome! I'll slowly add more apps to it for him and show him how they work...but, I will say that this has been the coolest way to catch him up on some new technology. (it's new for me we're doing it together) I know that there's voice command capability available on here... Just haven't figured it out yet. Anyway, my advice would be to start out slow...slow...slow...and ease into more things as they understand it. The idea is to have fun with it and stay engaged. I' m hoping to get on of these for my parents too and send it to them, so I can catch them up as well.
  • Jul 26 2011: I think the elderly would love to connect if given the opportunity. Suggest that their children or grandchildren help them to open a facebook account for them to share their down memory lanes, chat with their contemporary and to find their friends & family members so that they are not lonely or feel useless. ;)
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    Aug 6 2011: By reaching out to older generations through technology that they are familiar with. We are enabling simple Internet applications on TV, which elderly people can control using their good old remote control. 10 numeric buttons, 4 arrow keys and "OK" - only 50% more buttons than a telephone.
    "Enabling" means not creating these applications ourselves, but allowing others to create them for whomever they want. Because it is not up to us to decide which applications are useful or relevant to people - it should be up to them.

    Technologies like Immersive Communications ( can be as valuable to elderly people as they are to younger generations. It is simply a matter of enabling easy access
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    Aug 3 2011: I don't believe that the older generation really needs technology. Unlike the younger youth (who haven't really realized the importance of life and time), enjoy having the latest gadgets. As people grow older, their desires and wants in technology reduces because they soon realize and develop around the idea that life and time is becoming more and more precious as each day passes.
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    Aug 1 2011: Many things we take for granted were once brand new technology, such as a door key or a biro.

    The older you are, the more difficult is is to create new patterns. Tech creators should really have old people in mind as life expectancy goes up, and visit old people's homes to see how hard it is for them to get used to a new TV set or a remote control full of tiny buttons that their old hands can't operate.

    Technology is not vital, but it can improve one's daily life in more than one way, but only if it's plain and ergonomic for the users. Technology is not limited to leisure and pleasure for geeky teenagers or young adults, it is also what allows elders to communicate with their loved ones loing distance, feel less pain, stay away from depression.

    It's a bit like when the architect created your magnificent house but messed up all the practical details that wold make you feel good living in it, just because he didn't take the care to try to be in your shoes.

    So if we combine compassion and coveting a growing market, it's about time to try on a nice sensible pair!
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    Aug 1 2011: start a tech table at a local favorite restaurant.
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    Jul 26 2011: How can we make technology more friendly to people in their old age?

    When we give it to them, include a grandchild.
    • Jul 26 2011: Hey Thomas. I think one of the barriers to current technology is its interface design.
      I studied Human Computer Interaction, and when people interact with a novel device, they first try to interact it in ways they do with an object that is most similar to it. For instance, remember when you tried to interact with your first iPhone or iPad. Younger generations or people who are familiar with technology try to interact with it in ways they do with desktop computers, or mobile phones (point and click). However, for older generation, they don't have any prior knowledge or experience of interacting with an object that is similar to new technologies. I think this is a definite barrier (mouse, point and click, right click, keyboard, and etc. are very abstract).

      One of my opinions to this solution (many papers also outline this challenge) is having more intelligent computers and interfaces. Everyone (including older generation) are used to traditional verbal communication and writing with pen and paper. So if computers in the future are able to understand and communicate with natural language, I believe it would reduce the learning curve for the older generations dramatically.

      Also, for those who are interested in intelligent computers, please have a read on the web about IBM's Watson, or alternatively have a look at this video clip:
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        Jul 26 2011: QUOTE: "So if computers in the future are able to understand and communicate with natural language, I believe it would reduce the learning curve for the older generations dramatically."

        "Computer: Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." - Jean-Luc Picard

        Of course, we would also need a replicator.
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    Jul 23 2011: You don't need technology to improve your life. The older generation don't think to use it because they don't need it.

    When people see a need for it, they will use it. Create a need and they will come..
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      Jul 25 2011: Right!!!!!
      They were happy without new technologie. I'm sure they could live without it.
      Create need and they will come
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      Jul 25 2011: Why create a need? I think you mean, "show them the benefits". Anyway, the elderly do benefit from technology, but they don't seek it in the proactive way that young people do. My local library used to train groups of elderly to use the internet. They loved it, but perhaps mainly because it was social, with tea and bisuits layed on ;) Show how the new technology relates to their lives and provide a comfortable environment for them to pick it up at their own pace.
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        Jul 25 2011: No, I mean create the need. Until there is a need to use the tool, it is only using the tool for the sake of using the tool.

        The benefits of digital technology largely revolve around convenience which I don't think is a motivating enough factor for many people, especially those with habits built over a life-time.

        Considering the cost in both money and time to learn, it probably isn't worth bothering about for many 'elderly' people.
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      Aug 1 2011: I'm not crazy about the term "create need" it sounds like social manipulation. I'm not "elderly" but I do not need a cell phone. I have internet and a computer. My parents are the same. Simplify. When I see a way to use technology to simplify or improve my life I use it. I don't feel I need to contribute to the millions of cell phones piling up in the trash, or the time wasting of incessant texting, gaming, downloading. Keep it simple, big buttons, easy to read. Please don't ask me to read a 50 page book of instructions to use a phone!
  • Aug 21 2011: My grandmother has taken computer courses and she is very efficient. However, my grandfather hasn't taken any computer courses and only knows how to work the television and sometimes that is challenging enough. He refuses to do any short courses because he is sexist and believes men should know it straight away etc.

    Granddad believes 'the machine' (as he calls everything technical or the computer) should being able to read his mind. Obviously, as he has discovered, it hasn't responded by just staring at the screen.

    I had to try and explain the cursor is like your finger. He found the cursor difficult to see, control and understand.

    He couldn't grasp or remember what each of the icons do.

    The keyboard buttons are too small for his big fingers.

    Therefore I have concluded touch screen would be better for him except the keyboard would be difficult (even I have found using the touch screen keyboard very frustrating at time.)

    A notice at the beginning of the start up saying 'What would you like to do' either he can type it in or point at suggestions.

    I don't know how voice recognition is for computers now but if he could speak to the computer that would be a lot easier.

    If the computer would switch on as quickly and easily as a tv.
  • Aug 20 2011: Hi! This is an interesting topic, I have grown up with technology and have seen much of it evolve. My input is going to be less about technological designs and more the experience of my grandparents adapting to technology.

    I am good friends with my grandfather and have tried very hard, along with my father, to keep him up to date with technology. My grandfather loves it and I am proud to say he is a very capable operator of a desktop mac, automatic car and a touch sensitive phone, as well as having a flat screen HD television etc. I think this is great, as he is 82 and much of the technology he uses would have been beyond imagination when he was my age (22). My grandmother, who is a couple of years younger, is also an avid technowizz with a macbook. The way the younger generations of my family have enabled their technological inclusion is purely by personally engaging them. I exchange e-mails with my grandparents on a regular basis and use text messages to arrange lunch with them. I think the little bit of extra effort we have all put in has really paid off. This being the case, I feel the technology is already fairly user friendly, it just needs introducing in the right way. Many of us born with technology will have gained skills through experience and exposure, but also being forced to hand in typed up work at school and using the internet as a tool and part of every day life. I must admit I am lucky with my grandparents, they are pretty active and enthusiastic when it comes to this sort of thing, so they were interested in learning about it in the first place.

    Those born pre-computer, without people to guide them through the technology may benefit from an interactive tutorial. Although I feel this has the potential to be executed very poorly, the worst outcome would be to patronize or demean an elderly person who is keen to learn, thereby putting them off the idea. However if done correctly it could vastly improve an individual's quality of life.
    • Aug 21 2011: I am an old guy an somewhat perplexed by the threads that equate technology to computers. A thought....there's no physics in software!
      What the students are taught today seems to be that knowledge thus truth springs from the computer. I have several grandchildren (11) who are very computer literate but fall short in math and physics (ironically they all are excellent students and make A and Bs in their courses). I've talked to several educators who've said essentially that new technology = computers. In fact some of these instructors have stated that they don't understand why they teach geometry, algebra, basic physics.....Their words " no one ever uses that crap".
      I think the old folks should be asked what they think.
  • Aug 20 2011: I have to say in my own experience with my mother, who wouldn't know Google from a poodle, she seems much more receptive to devices with a touch screen interface. After giving up on her figuring out my laptop, I introduced her to my new tablet. She loves the ability to enlarge text with just a pinch of the fingers, or to navigate by simply swiping from side to side. the virtual keyboard was much easier on her arthritic fingers than the one on my laptop. She first starting getting engaged with some of the simple games I have downloaded, but soon started keeping in touch with old friends on Facebook. Much of this with little instruction on my part.

    I think the key is to have a much more interesting and adjustable interface that encourages older people (or just people with little experience) to immerse themselves in learning.
  • Aug 20 2011: Few steps to learn and should be intuitive. Old people are not the only ones who struggle with technology. There are quite a few younsters who do not relate well hence have difficulty. There are youngsters in India who cannot drive a car!!!
  • Aug 18 2011: Come out some technology which exclusively caters to older people. This clears up the almost "memetic" hesitancy that many elderly people may tend to have towards new technology. By specifically catering to older people (causing a good amount of them a given product) more and more of them will start to interact, tinker, and learn from these devices, which will serve as their "templates," if you will, to help them become more technologically-savvy.
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    Aug 9 2011: Honestly I believe it has nothing to do with technology. Older people need to re- educate themselves in the new way of thinking. If I think I can't use new technology then well I can't. But if I think i can then I can. We make life seem so hard, and always go against the flow. What we need to teach them is the way of the mind. Many may not catch on only cause they don't believe the mind can do anything. The most powerful system in the world is the brain. I say use it....Just because your older doesn't mean to call it quits. Your not dead yet. :)
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    Aug 6 2011: Wen we refer to "technology" for seniors, this includes use of things like microwaves ovens, toasters, TV, telephone and things like that as much as it does computer skills. My father needs a robot.
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    Aug 6 2011: I just googled "teaching computer skills to seniors" and a bunch of references came up - going to check them out.
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    Aug 6 2011: I think we start with not underestimating their capacity - I've noticed that after a certain age, people started treating the elderly like children and attempting to make all their decisions for them.

    So once we have established what someone would like to accomplish with the technology at hand, then we can match the tech to the need - whether that be streamlining the amount of applications on the desktop, getting them voice-text software to aid their typing, or improving their bandwidth so they can video chat with their grandkids, or even ensuring they have access to shell accounts so they can play in MUDs if that's what they want.

    The single best thing we can do is listen.
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      Aug 6 2011: I think a mistake we make when we interact/help them is to use terminology that intimidates them. Words like "streaming" and "wifi" and "link" are often impossible for older generations to comprehend. What the elderly need is an "Idiots Guide" to understanding and using technology (I'm not using the term "idiot" in a derogatory way - referring to the popular how-to series of books). Better yet a video.
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        Aug 7 2011: Exactly. For example a video that shows a person similar to them - senior citizen in a typical situation where one might use the technology - using a given technology, mostly visualized with only a few verbal explanations of specific points, and no technology terms.

        When they can see someone like them switching on the TV, go to a specific channel and then selecting "Photos" to see pictures and movies of their grand children, they will understand.
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        Aug 20 2011: I agree with you to a certain extent. I was thinking specifically about my grandmother who at 80+ was motoring around on the web, email, and instant messaging systems with ease, where other people just assume that beyond a certain age, people "won't get it".

        But yes, letting them see their peers accomplishing things that enable them to stay in touch with distant friends and family, so they can understand the value first, and then putting terminology into a framework they as individuals can relate to is key.

        Bottom line is we all need to have anchor points to learn new things and we can't make blanket statements about learning capacity based on age any more than we can based on color or gender.
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          Aug 20 2011: In my father's case (he is 83) it is his vision and lack of fine motor control that has made what used to be a worthwhile and enjoyable activity (surfing the internet, emailing family and friends, etc.) a frustrating and demoralizing one. He will not fully acknowledge the extent to which his vision and motor skills are beginning to deny him this pleasure which only compounds the problem :(
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    Aug 5 2011: Make computer screens larger screens and keyboards that light up .
    Also what about a more simply os for them based on android .
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    Aug 5 2011: Wow did not so many responses. People really are passionate about changing their world through Talk and Technology.
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    Aug 4 2011: I am grappling with this issue with my father, whose eyesight is going (macular degeneration). I have gotten him a larger monitor (32"), magnified the screen image to 200% and adjusted the sceen setting to "high contrast". It has helped some, but he still is not always able to navigate the web or use email, type word documents or even watch TED videos without getting hopelessly, virtually lost!!!!!

    My thought for a solution is a voice recognition application. If my father could sit in front of the computer and speak commands like, "Compose email" or "Visit Amazon" or "Google ________" it would circumvent a lot of the issues around his visual impairment. He is a stuburn man. He's an old dog. He still drives. He scares me to death.
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    Aug 3 2011: This is an excellent, informative and compassionate conversation. So many insightful answers!
    It leads me to wonder, with all these great ideas, how technology might also help those elderly suffering from macular degeneration, which leaves them legally blind, in addition to facing the challenges to aging.

    Talking books are wonderful, but what else might be developed for aging sight challenged people?
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    Jul 30 2011: Dear Sir, I agree with you and Microsoft has done a lot to help out with access in programs like Windows 7 etc. Programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking allow them to surf the web, write letters, do spread sheets etc with voice only activation for the most part. Maybe the answer is to let the children teach the elders and have computer centers available for free use in every village and town. They could be staffed with young people who volunteer and have social programs like twitter, facebook etc and then the elders could make contact with other elders via these programs or email.
    Just a few thoughts and I am sure you have probably already thought of them.
  • Jul 28 2011: I work with SeniorNet Wellington New Zealand. We provide a learning environment for older people. Have a look at some of our free online workshops at Some of the conversations suggest that the top link on the page - Accessibility Tools, could be a good start for some
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    Jul 28 2011: I really like some of your answers
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    Jul 27 2011: Sounds like your son's got the right idea, Salim :)
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    Jul 27 2011: We get more like a kid when we get older for some reason ? So, why not teach them in the way that we teach kids ? Because, seems that older people are "afraid" a bit of it, so it as to be fun, easy to learn and process for them.

    A market study should be done and see how to improve and facilitate this great technology to our lovely elders !!
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    Jul 26 2011: It's not technology to be more friendly rather the other way. Just older generation need to be a bit curious like child. May be spend more time with child to get back that curiosity that the lost long time back to their adulthood.
    Kids with no knowledge of any technology quiet easily using those already that I saw just following my kids.
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      Jul 26 2011: This is a remarkable point, Salim! Part of why my kids love technology so much is that they have no fear and don't have their own money invested. Someone I worked with recently pointed out that some of the fear of or disregard for technology use at work stems from a time when older members of our faculty and staff were told that if they pressed one wrong button, they'd destroy the entire system (remember the early days of computing?). That sense of fear builds on you over the years. The age group having the most difficulty was also raised in the depression (either in the U.S. or elsewhere). That sense of caution has followed this generation in many different aspects of their lives.
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        Jul 27 2011: Thanks Amy for your note.
        Yes, you are right, the fear of getting wrong or making mess makes adults or older people to be less curious. I still remember years back when I joined in the taem at my office as youngest member found only one 286 IBM computer lying in the corner under cover well preserved , which was there to be used by 5 of us including me. On day one as I approached to it one of the colleague (all were at least 10+ years than me in experience) exclaimed how come I am trying to touch that valuable thing I am definitely going to destroy it whole!!! That day I stopped but latere started experimenting it when no one was around , finally after may be a month or two all of them started coming to me to make their presentation using computer to help them with some spreadsheet etc etc.

        About your money factor, few weeks back my younger kid, he was making something with some blocks , as my wife asked what he is doing? Reply was I am trying to design a new remote control plane for kids , that I will make more once grow up and sale at a price of below 2 USD (he told in our local currency). His mother asked it's so cheap. Immmediate answer was than money will not be wasted and kids can buy more :))
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    Jul 26 2011: I think Debra's idea is wonderful but I feel we need to think about it very carefully. Considering the reaction of Ian's grandmother and Jim's grandfather who has difficulty in relating to software. Am sure many other older people have similar problems. I think we need to create technology that is suitable for them like we create technology suitable and beneficial to kids.
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    Jul 25 2011: Make it as simple as possible, while keeping interactions and interface intuitive.
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      Jul 25 2011: Yes, but is intuitive design the same for all ages? Do the elderly have a different perspective compared with young people who are used to manipulating electronic, digital devices? Plus you'd better make the buttons bigger and avoid any fiddley battery changes or memory cards, as they often haven't the dexterity to cope with that.
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    Jul 25 2011: I do agree with Scott - technology is an element of the 'contemporary'.

    However, I do also think that technology is becoming non-age specific. Both hardware and software are becoming more and more accessible to all generations - children can use iPhones to play games and more aged citizens are seen reading papers on tablet devices as well as applying for their pensions online in developed countries.

    On another note, I don't think that this should only apply to people of an old age. I think that technology should be deployed to other groups/networks as a tool that would lead t advances in other social spheres. The mobile phone lead to access to media in third world countries. I think the benefit spread of the internet could be way way more beneficial...

    So I suppose the answer is in the question - we can make technology more friendly by making it more user friendly.
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    Jul 23 2011: Wow! i like the answer.