As part of several workgroups and initiatives to address the digital divide among older adults – an issue that has been heightened during the pandemic – the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative recently co-hosted a webinar with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs on “Understanding Technology as a Social Determinant of Health.”
The webinar featured research from a team of professors and students at Babson College that focused on equitable technology access and utilization for older adults.
Findings of the research included:
- Affordable internet access poses a relatively more severe problem than access to devices.
- Views differ on the stigma attached to older adults’ willingness and capability to use technology. Those experts who work daily with older adults rate the older adults’ willingness and capability lower.
- Most older adults may need simpler devices with limited features to support ease of use.
- A peer support network (e.g. caregiver, social workers, friends, family) could expedite the adoption of technology for older adults.
- Virtual programs (particularly on video conferencing) could be more effective than face-to-face interaction, when offered by a patient, caring and trusted party.