Leela Damodaran, Loughborough University
New ICT-based technologies have tremendous potential to enable older people to live independent, engaged and connected lives.
Older people are the fastest growing sector of internet users and this trend is likely to continue as government and commercial service providers make efforts to engage older people in the 'digital world'.
Older people who are confident and empowered users of ICTs stand to gain significant benefits from ICT for the full duration of their old age, if their use of ICT can effectively be sustained. A significant threat to this continued use of ICT by older people is their experience of changes in their capabilities and circumstances that may act as a barrier to their access of ICT.
A key question for research, therefore, was how to support older people effectively to sustain ICT usage as their capabilities change, to avoid the limitation or curtailment of their ICT use and to continue to access the benefits that ICT can bring, so that they can continue to lead autonomous and independent lives.
Aims and objectives
A series of facilitated workshops were undertaken, with the aim of enabling participants to share knowledge and experience, identifying knowledge gaps and research problems, building consensus about priorities and developing innovative and proactive ideas for future research and development.
The network explored ideas about the dynamic nature of ageing and ICT, and identified exiting new ways of looking at older people's sustained engagement with ICT.
Particular attention was been given to utilising ICT for communication amongst network participants, with use of collaborative software tools for effective network activity.
The network is well on the way to the formation of a research proposal based upon strong and exciting ideas to address the research question.