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    Are We Afraid of Developing Technology for the Elderly

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    I work for a hospice program providing palliative care which means we attend to the emotional and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients at an inpatient facility or at the patient’s home, and I see lots of people near the end of their life. Some of them are too lethargic to use an iPad, but many are not.

    birdbeard-300x300Though all of my clients are dying, they are otherwise able to function normally for a person their age. Those who are not lethargic or in their last days often tell me how bored they are!

    They speak about their inability to find anything that entertains them. So, I did a little research on the subject thinking “Well maybe a computer for older folks might help.” Turns out there are some, the options are not great, and I have yet to see one in an assisted living facility.

    So why has Apple not attempted to make iPad adaptable to Seniors’ needs?

    Personally, I want to be able to browse the internet when I am seventy, and I want to be able to keep up with the news when I have arthritis and can’t swipe properly. Below are some reasons why we don’t have it and why we are going to need it.

    Generational Gap

    The affordable personal computer came out in the 80’s which means those who grew up with computers are now just entering their early to mid 40’s. To everyone else, computers were new and confusing.  However, this doesn’t excuse the lack of technology for those who are older, but it does help to explain the lack of attention to this market.

    Infantilization

    In-fant-til-ize-a-tion: To treat or condescend as if still a young child

    Would you let a baby play with your expensive iPhone? If the answer is yes, you have more money than I do. Most people are afraid their child will break their expensive toy. They are not wrong either most children will. We assume the same of older adults, that they will either break it out of frustration or will not be able to comprehend its use. Neither is true. There are many older adults who know how and enjoy using computers to entertain themselves

    Denial

    Likely the worst offender, we refuse to make these adaptations to technology because doing so would be admitting our own mortality. It would require acknowledgment that we will grow old and may eventually need these devices ourselves. Once we can admit we are growing older as a society more and more of these devices will be present.

    That’s it for now, but I can’t wait for the Angry Bird’s senior edition to come out. In the comments below tell me about what you want on your computer when you are older!

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    Daniel Ortiz Reti is the Technology Staff Writer for Social Work Helper, he received his MSW from USC in May 2014. Using innovative ways of integrating technology and social work, Daniel wants to show you more efficient ways of delivering services to your clients. With experience working in the private sector, rural social work, hospital social work and outreach programs. If you want to know more about how you can implement the tracking and analysis of data, new software or technology literacy programs into your organization email him at: [email protected]

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