The Aging and Technological Society: Learning Our Way Through the Decades

The Aging and Technological Society: Learning Our Way Through the Decades

David B. Ross (Nova Southeastern University, USA), Maricris Eleno-Orama (Tacoma Community College, USA & Western Oklahoma State College, USA) and Elizabeth Vultaggio Salah (Palm Beach County School District, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2838-8.ch010


This chapter provides information and support for researchers, family, and medical providers concerning how technology can improve the quality of life for older adults while remain independent as they age in place at home or a community. In examining the available research, the researchers did find continuous developments in Gerontechnology to be beneficial as the aging population is rapidly increasing worldwide. There is increased recognition of the advancement in technology to help the aging in areas of autonomy, socialization, and mental and physical wellbeing. This chapter covered areas of change, independence with a better quality of life, technological devices/adoptions, generational differences and learning with technologies, and university-based retirement communities. This chapter concludes with suggestions for future development in accessibility of technology-based educational programs and the Internet, how to infuse technology to advance the older adults' independence and quality of life, and how older adults are adapting to living in life span communities.
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Heaggans (2012) opined that the baby boomer generation as well as generations prior discover challenges to stay current with the advancement of technology. The older adults find it intimidating to use technology compared to the younger generations as they need to have the readiness to learn and to develop a knowledge base in experiential learning. There is a need to have some sort of assimilation to deal with change, especially with technology. Woods and Clare (2008) mentioned that as people age, they have several challenges (i.e., biological, psychological, and social) that pose anxiety to their “construction of self and personal continuity” (p. 20). Heaggans added that if older adults are taught not to be fearful of the unknown in technology, it would assist them socially, physically, and mentally. In addition, to conform to changes in technology, individuals strategically and actively attempt to change their behavior to deal with the rapid change and need to work with technology. These strategies can assist the aging adult use higher-level functioning skills, especially based on a tech-enabled environment.

Change is part of everyone’s life, it takes time and understanding and a long-term commitment by any person or group, or organization to adapt to change. What affects people so dramatically is not the change per se, but the rapid rate of change. Technology is definitely a process that has changed radically over the past few decades. As the rate of change increases, people will have to increase their willingness and ability to adapt and at the art of anticipating the need for productive change. For example, it is imperative that the aging adult keep both body and mind active and healthy moving forward (e.g., exercise their brains, keep active, and engage in social situations).

Older adults will have a better understanding of technology and how it can influence their daily lives; however, they must be willing to embrace it (Heaggans, 2012). This will also help them develop new and stronger social networks and build a better quality of life for health communication with others. Exercising the body facilitates a healthy brain, and a healthy brain facilitates a healthy body. Physical activity has been shown to inhibit the onset of dementia and relative diseases (Lautenschlager, Cox, & Cyarto, 2012). “Physical inactivity is an independent factor contributing to mortality and disability with estimates of 5–10% deaths worldwide being due to inactivity” (Lautenschlager, Cox, & Cyarto, 2012, p. 475).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Quality of Life: A psychological theory represented by life satisfaction as well as a clinical and geriatric outcomes symbolized by the core dimensions of health status, physical health, family, finances, religious beliefs, and personal growth.

Silent Generation: The Silent Generation are also known as the Traditionalists who were born prior to 1946 and grew up during the Depression and World War II. This group of 50 million people consist of the largest group of retirees who have the following characteristics: (a) traditional family values; (b) demand quality; (c) patient, respectful, and loyal towards others; (d) possess excellent interpersonal skills; and (e) have a strong work ethic. This generation grew up without modern technology.

Generation X: From 1965 to 1976, the Generation X, also known as Gen X are defined as slackers, yet are known as the first generation to develop ease and comfort with technology. While independent, they are entrepreneurial, reject rules, mistrust institutions, but are multitaskers and known as the latchkey kids.

Centennials (GenZ/iGen): This generation of Centennials are true digital natives; they are considered as the generation best equipped for understanding and using advanced innovations. This generation from 1996 to present are also known as GenZ/iGen. They are a fast-emerging generation in the workplace and marketplace who like instant gratification and are highly connected to the use of communications, yet due to social media, lack a community-oriented nature.

Life-Care Retirement Communities: This type of senior living replaces the typical Continuing Care Retirement Community perception and moves toward a new perspective that fosters growth and new experiences for older adults that are aligned with their lifestyles and attitudes. The types of communities are life plan communities on university campuses or retirement corporations that have three levels consisting of independent living, assistive living, or skilled nursing facilities.

Gerontechnology: Gerontechnology, which is derived from gerontology and technology, is defined as implementing successful aging and assisting older adults in meeting the domains of housing, communication, health, safety, comfort, mobility, and leisure and work.

Aging in Place: The ability for an individual to choose to live in their home or a community as long as possible, while remaining independent, comfortable, healthy, and safe with human connection through the use of technology.

Baby Boomers: This generation made up of 78 million people from 1946 to 1964 grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War and the Vietnam War, Race to Space, assassinations, and impeachment. This generation comprised of idealistic and competitive values, yet were free spirited and believed in individualism; in the workplace, they understood they workplace to be about teamwork and building strong relationships to be successful. This was also the first technological generation with computers developing on the horizon.

Millennials: The fastest-growing generation of customers in the marketplace are the Millennials (1977 to 1995). They challenge various conventional strategies and approaches regarding attitudes toward the workplace, and grew up during the financial crisis. This group also emerged along with the Centennials in the core of the digital age and had technology and social networks that were prevalent in their lives; they seek freedom are innovative, and question authority.

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