HEALTH GERONTECHNOLOGY IN AGEING: A QUANTITATIVE STUDY
Universidad de Salamanca (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Over the last decade there has been a significant rise in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) use among the elderly. Various recent studies highlight the benefits that ICT can provide to the elderly in terms of improvements to both mental and physical health, self health assessment, satisfaction and quality of life, a reduction in the perception of loneliness, or favourable health behaviours. However, there are also reports that indicate that this age group continues to experience an equally significant digital exclusion. Researchers suchaffirm that use and access to digital technologies by older people is measured by different key factors that impinge on this digital divide such as level of education and/or income, gender, existence of any disabilities, place of residence, and even civil status.
In response to the reduction of this digital divide, gerontechnology plays a fundamental role in this area. Gerontechnology can be defined as an interdisciplinary field that connects existing technologies and those that are developing with the aspirations and needs of the elderly, supporting in this way successful aging. In this respect, the literature on this subject establishes that this new professional field, or applied discipline, presents five areas of study: living environments, communication, personal mobility and transportation, self-fulfillment and health. Specifically, our study focuses on this last area, which focuses on the development of technological devices geared towards preventing particular behaviours that are harmful to health and on improving the quality of life of those of an advanced age. Thus, this study has two main aims: on the one hand, to analyse the control that this age group possesses over the gerontechnology of health and, and on the other hand, the importance of its use to control various aspects of health and wellbeing.
For this research a quantitative study was used, with a sample of 383 people from Castile and Leon (Spain) over the age of 60. A questionnaire designed according to the research aims was used in order to collect the data. The tool was divided into three sections: the first was aimed at collecting socio-demographic data, the second was made up of items to collect information on control over devices geared towards the area of health; and lastly, the third was aimed at studying the importance of using devices geared towards the monitoring of various aspects of health and wellbeing among the elderly. The data obtained was then analysed through the application of descriptive tests.
The initial results of this study show that the majority of those surveyed are familiar with, but have never used the devices or apps geared towards health or for its monitoring. In spite of this tendency, the majority do recognise the importance of controlling aspects related to health and wellbeing through the use of technological devices. In both situations, differences regarding the age range of the participants can be noted. As a conclusion to this work, we highlight the existence of a digital divide among this age group. Therefore, we deem it necessary to expand this research with regard to the implementation and use of ICT among the elderly, providing innovative spaces where this age group can participate in an active way on the design, co-creation and assessment of efficient and useful products that are adapted to the needs of the end users.
Keywords: Technology, Education, Elderly, Health.