When I’m Sixty Four. Towards Successful Aging in a Platform Society

Gerolf Nauwerck

Uppsala University, Department of Information Technology

The pandemic crisis of 2020 has emphasised the vulnerability of the older population, their isolation and the reliance on information technology–such as video communication–to ameliorate the situation. According to the United Nations, the population aged 65 and over is growing faster than all other age groups globally. This also means that the societal resources to support older people are decreasing, in financial terms as well as in terms of human resources.
Information technology is increasingly seen as the solution to the equation of how to support an aging population. At the same time, there is a rapid shift towards ICT enabled processes in all sectors of society, meaning that everyday interactions increasingly call for high levels of computer literacy and proficiency. As demographics change, the concept of “older people” is overly simplistic, and there are others better addressing emergent quality and complexity of an aging population and its heterogeneous needs (Settersten & Mayer, 1997). That said, for the sake of simplicity this position paper will stick with the generic term. However, as a heuristic device it may be relevant to at least consider three groups: employed older people, older people in early retirement and in late retirement respectively.

eHealth literacy for the Promotion of Technology Acceptance for the Older Adults

Roberta Bevilacqua, Stefano Strano


Promote the use of technology by the older adults is an imperative for the
enhancement of health in ageing and this is the common aim of Participatory Design (PD) and eHealth literacy. To achieve this goal, PD studies the usability of technology tools, while eHealth literacy focuses on the skills that older people need to use these devices. In the eHealth domain, there is a multiple set of barriers personal, socio-cultural, political,
legal, economic, technical and legal limitations. These limitations hamper eHealth interventions and older adults’ access and use of health technologies. In addition, the absence of a standardized training is a main barrier in this field of research. The standardization of an eHealth literacy training could be achieved in three steps. The first is the systematization of terms and definitions adopted in the research field to harmonize the
current evidence and knowledge on eHealth literacy. The second consists in the definition of the contents of the eHealth literacy training by adopting a multidisciplinary approach. Finally, the third step should be characterized by the implementation of RCT study design, in order to provide validated and applicable results.

Our little boxes: preconceptions and empathy on design for older adults

Vasiliki Mylonopoulou
University of Gothenburg, Applied IT, Human-Computer Interaction

To deal with the world’s complexity, we often categorize people. Sometimes, we may think
that we design for a specific user group e.g. older adults, but we may base our design on social
preconceptions deeply rooted in our subconscious. This creates distance between the designers and the users. Lately, I conducted a literature review to collect design guidelines for designing technology for older adults. This made me reflect to my practices as a designer. Do I really understand the users’ needs or am I just blind from how the society I am leaving in perceive older adults? This opinion paper presents my reflections on how our preconceptions influence empathy creation, and when we use teaching as a patch solution to bad design.

Socio-technical systems as ‘machines for learning’

Heidi Kaspar1 and Claudia Müller1, 2

1 Careum University Health, Switzerland

2 IT for the Ageing Society, University of Siegen, Germany

In this position paper, we take a concept – or parts of it – and run away with it (Mol 2002) to explore its potential to better understand the non/appropriation of technologies by people in later life. We introduce the concept of the city as a machine for learning developed by Colin McFarlane (2011) in the field of urban studies. We identify elements we consider inspiring for the study of socio-technical systems, translate them to smaller entities of human-technology interactions and test their usability to analyze how older people in later life integrate digital technologies in their everyday lives. We do so from two distinct vantage points, i.e. empirical contexts: A participatory Design Project of a Neighborhood platform and the development of an emergency alert system for older adults in assisted living facilities.  We conclude with the suggestion to understand the concept “machine for learning” a normative notion and a claim to accept the challenge it implies.