How India's Elderly Population Unleashes The Powers of New Age Technology

How India's Elderly Population Unleashes The Powers of New Age Technology - Sakshi Post

By MP Deepu

The elderly demographic has ardently adopted technology and the pandemic proved to fuel the sky-rocket pace of adoption. There was no longer a question of whether to adopt technological innovations, it became a requirement and in the last 2 years it has helped the elderly to emerge from social isolation through meaningful conversations and has also allowed them to stay mentally and physically active.

How are Seniors Using Technology?

Digital Socialising & Learning:

In the pre-Covid era, a lot of seniors restricted their entertainment and enjoyment to physical meetups and celebrations. However, as the pandemic spread across the world and the movement restrictions ensued, in-person meetings had to be stopped. This is when children stepped up and helped their parents to engage in meaningful virtual connections by helping them get onboard with virtual tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook Live, etc. “I got through the pandemic by joining a lot of virtual sessions on fitness and music” – mentions Poonam Bindra, whose son works as a senior IT professional in Delhi NCR, and helped her understand Zoom. Communication also improved for seniors as they were introduced to Facetime, WhatsApp Video/ Voice Calls as well as Facebook Rooms for catching up with their children, grandchildren and friends. Many seniors also started to

use mobile applications to stream spiritual videos, movies and play games like ludo, chess, sudoku, crosswords, and tambola with friends who were miles away.

In a recent survey conducted by SeniorWorld, a Gurugram based company catering to the needs of the elderly, came out with surprising results: 65% of seniors in India are on at least one Social Media platform - Facebook taking the lead. It was also found that most seniors use a minimum of 5 apps on their smartphones daily. The startup has a flourishing Facebook Community engaging seniors with much-needed nostalgic posts reminding them of fond memories, helping them learn, as well as keeping them informed of all that is latest and relevant for seniors. They also started a series of webinars specially crafted for empowering seniors staying home during the pandemic with health talks, yoga sessions, singing, art, and other technology learning programs. Mr. and Mrs. Bhandari from Pune reminisce the joyous moments they spent with the hosts of the webinars and cherish the newfound friendship they developed with fellow webinar attendees who joined from all around the country.

Independent Living:

Seniors today not just know about the various technological options available but are also ardent users of online services like instant medicine delivery, doctor appointments, utility bill payments, grocery shopping, cab booking, online shopping, booking tours, and much more. Seniors say they are using technology more than ever before for their healthcare and to stay informed. They are also becoming more aware of Smart Voice-Enabled Assistants, Smart TVs, Smart Watches, Smart Lights, etc. This has facilitated independence at home and supported aging in place- “the ability to live safely and comfortably in one’s own home and community, regardless of age, income or competence level”

Second Innings:

Senior Model Dinesh Mohan who started his modelling journey above the age of 50 broke the internet with his photoshoot inspiring millions of people, he is now a huge Instagram sensation. Another senior Ravi Bala, a home-maker turned Instagram celebrity also known as ‘Dancing Dadi’ dances her way to fame with millions of youngsters showering her with inspiring and motivating comments on each dance performance. Many seniors started YouTube and Instagram channels during the

lockdown and pursued their dreams making waves over the internet, adding new financial sources, and finding independence thanks to technology.

Meeting Fitness Goals:

With Seniors getting more and more aware of their health and wellness, a lot of seniors have enrolled themselves for regular virtual fitness sessions with dedicated coaches helping them stay fit and lead active fulfilling lives. Senior Clubs are the new place for seniors to mingle virtually with fellow seniors. Mr Vinod Kumar Chopra from Ludhiana mentions “I just saw an advertisement on Facebook of a Senior Club and joined it not knowing much about what they had in store, they sent me a Zoom link and since that day, I look forward to my evenings at the Club with my new friends!”. Mrs. Geeta Bisht says “I start my day with yoga sessions and the teacher helps correct our posture during the sessions and teaches us the right way of doing yoga, It’s so easy and I never miss a class even if I’m travelling”.

Seniors have been adopting fitness tracker apps and gadgets like high-tech wearables that monitor everything from blood pressure to daily steps taken. They love working towards a fitness goal and also regularly share their fitness stats with friends and family.

Digital Inclusivity for Seniors & Next Steps:

Having discussed tectonic shifts in the adoption to technology by seniors, we also need to address the pressing need to simplify technology for seniors. For 2021, The United Nations has adopted the theme of “Digital Equity for All Ages” which affirms the need for access and meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons. Recent reports by the International Telecommunications Union indicate that older persons experience digital inequity to a greater extent than other groups in society; they either lack access to technologies or are often not benefitting fully from the opportunities provided by technological progress.

In a research conducted by Pew Research Center Analysis, researchers reported a key barrier to wider adoption of technology by older citizens has been the “top-down” design process that is often used in creating technology for them. It’s a process based on “technologists' or at best geriatricians'

preconceptions of what older adults need with little consideration of user perspectives and preferences or their real-world constraints.

There are a few select companies in India and abroad that are pioneering in designing products as well as services specifically for seniors. Easyfone is an example of a Technology Service Provider with an inclusive design thinking process. Its range of feature phones for seniors has a remote configuration feature that allows their children & caregivers to monitor their location, well-being, and safety and also allows them to set alarms and reminders on their behalf.

Going forward, more and more companies need to focus on their design process to cater to the needs of seniors as the world population continues to grow older. The number of older people is projected to grow more than 60% in the next 15 years. By 2030, there will be about 1 billion older people globally, which is equivalent to 12% of the total population.

Summing Up

While the elderly might have learned their way around most of their regular used applications and websites, they are undoubtedly at a greater risk of fraud owing to their very quick and sudden transition to all things digital. Dr. Y.K. Gupta, a financial planning expert and speaker at the SeniorWorld Club mentions the need for cyber risk awareness among senior citizens who are prone to being duped by fraudulent calls or messages. “In India, we get to read about various frauds happening with seniors since they are not aware of such practices. Companies should arrange more informative material for seniors to help stay updated and assist them in understanding what might pose as harm to them, what to avoid etc”

The article is authored by Mr MP Deepu, Co-founder and COO of Senior World, a company catering to the needs of seniors

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