Ageing, Learning, Technology, and Health Management

Ageing, Learning, Technology, and Health Management

Gillian Boulton-Lewis, Laurie Buys, Sylvia Edwards, Helen Patridge
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-356-2.ch042
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The world’s population is ageing rapidly. Ageing has an impact on all aspects of human life, including social, economic, cultural, and political. Understanding ageing is therefore an important issue for the 21st century. This chapter will consider the active ageing model. This model is based on optimising opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance quality of life. There is a range of exciting options developing for personal health management, for and by the ageing population, that make use of computer technology, and these should support active ageing. Their use depends however on older people learning to use computer technology effectively. The ability to use such technology will allow them to access relevant health information, advice, and support independently from wherever they live. Such support should increase rapidly in the future. This chapter is a consideration of ageing and learning, ageing and use of computer technology, and personal health management using computers.
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Ageing And Learning1

Globally the population is ageing. Worldwide the proportion of people aged 60 and over is growing faster than any other age group. In 2025 there will be a total of 1.2 billion people over the age of 60 (World Health Organisation, WHO, 2002, p6). McFadden (2002) noted that this is now a portion of the life span never before experienced by so many people and that consequently we need new models of ageing to deal with this. The notion of active ageing has been proposed as one such model.

Active Ageing is a relatively recent global approach to older people achieving healthy, productive, safe and fulfilling lives. Active ageing is the ‘process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age’ (World Health Organisation, WHO, 2002, p.12). Active ageing reflects not only the continuation of physical activity in later life, but also the continued participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual, and civic affairs. WHO challenged all countries to implement the concept of active ageing within the cultural and demographic realities of their populations. In Australia two studies have recently explored the concept of active ageing: the Australian Active Ageing survey (National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, 2005) investigated the contributors to and meaning of active ageing for older adults; and research undertaken by the Department for Community Development, Government of Western Australia (2006) developed and implemented an Active Ageing Benchmark Indicators. Both studies conceptualised active ageing for older people in terms of being proactive in keeping healthy, being physically and mentally active, engaging in learning, living in safe environments, working, and actively participating in family and community life. In the USA older adults themselves defined successful ageing as multidimensional including physical, functional, psychological and social health (Phelan, Anderson, LaCroix & Larson, 2004). In Britain, Bowling & Iliffe (2006) found that a multi dimensional lay model of ageing predicted quality of life more powerfully than unidimensional models (e.g. biomedical, sociological).


Education and learning are assumed to be important factors in facilitating participation and allowing adults to enjoy a positive quality of life as they age (WHO, 2002, p16). Participation within the broader community is important purely for enjoyment and recreation, and also to allow older people to adapt to changes within the environment in areas such as technology, lifestyle, finances and health. The ability to solve problems and adapt to change are strong predictors of active ageing and longevity according to Smits et al, (1999), cited in WHO (2002: 26). Butler (2002) cites the MacArthur Study on Aging as confirming that engagement in meaningful activities contributes to good health, satisfaction with life, and longevity as well as reducing the costs of physical and emotional illness. It is clear that learning plays an important role in productive ageing (Ardelt, 2000; Dench & Regan: 2000, Glendenning, 1997; Withnall, 2000) and therefore it is important for us to understand more about the phenomenon of learning by older people.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Computer Technology: is a broad term that refers to computer software and hardware.

Active Ageing: refers to the process of enhancing quality of life as people age by ensuring opportunities exist for health, participation and security.

Ageing: refers to the process of becoming older.

Older Adults,: older people, ageing persons, usually over 65 years.

Personal Health Management: refers to an individual taking active responsibility for managing their own health care.

Learning: refers to the process of acquiring or developing new skills, knowledge and attitudes.

Motivation to Learn: refers to attitude, desire, will to learn.

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