The growing population of baby boomers leads to serious challenges in the method of coping up with the challenges of aging. Modern advancements in medicine have resulted in providing the longevity but at the same time there seems to be no evidence of an eternal fountain of youth as a panacea for ailments that comes along with aging. Decline in cognitive abilities, challenges in physical abilities, decline in motor skills, emotional loneliness, mental distress and social isolation are a few of the challenges facing the aging population (Czaja et al., 2008). This demographic has been neglected over time in terms of understanding their needs and their adaptability to information systems and technology. This paper explores the challenges faced in integrating technology towards assistive care.
Baecker, R. M., Moffatt, K., & Massimi, M. (2012). Technologies for Aging Gracefully. Interactions, 32–36.
The paper starts off with the stark reality that “the world is aging”. While longevity enhanced by modern medicine is a desirable aspect of life, with aging comes the challenges of sensory, motor, cognitive and social isolation. Cognitive and physical challenges of older adults define the limitations and opportunities for them to participate in leisurely and recreational activities. Most usability studies have been conducted with younger adults, and a study of the limitations and abilities of older adults would help develop usability criteria for designing games for this demographic. Technology must enhance the lifestyle of older adults as a means to provide them with freedom, mobility and interdependence on one another in a social group. There should not be any discrimination in the use and experience of devices and technology for older adults and persons with disabilities. The concept of a barrier free living environment needs to be extended to the field of leisurely activities, personal entertainment and social interaction. The author formed Technologies for Aging Gracefully lab (TAGlab) in 2009 with the aim of enabling full participation in society by individuals with special needs i.e. peole afflicted with Alzhimer’s Disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), amnesia, aphasia, strokes, multiple sclerosis (MS) or vision loss. In the hierarchy of human needs as defined by Maslow, TAGlab focused its attention on the top three needs i.e. the love or social needs, esteem needs and self actualization needs.
The authors framed the relevance of technology in relation to the improvement of lives of senior citizens using Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. The following table indicates the work done by the authors and others in the realm of assistive technologies for the enhancement of the lifestyle of older adults. Continue reading