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  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

13 - Technology and ageing



This chapter examines how technology can enhance and compensate in the lives of older adults. It critically examines the scope and value of technology, and its use in specific circumstances (including dementia, care, transport), special considerations (e.g. gender, ethics), and future directions and policy.


Technology is developing at a very rapid pace. These developments allied to an ageing population make ‘technology and ageing’ an exciting topic to study. Technology covers a wide range of meanings including ‘the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes’ and ‘machinery and equipment developed from such scientific knowledge’, which is the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary (Soanes, 2005). Gerontechnology is the embracing term which covers technology for older people.

This chapter will start by considering the scope of technology and the people for whom it is designed. The focus is on ageing, which necessitates a life-course approach. People do not become ‘old’ on a particular birthday although for purposes of services, such as pensions, a chronological threshold date is often chosen (see Chapter 1). The experience of people before they reach a defined date is crucial when considering the use of technology. Those for whom a handwritten note or typewriter is the most modern form of communication are very different from those who use computers with ease. It is, therefore, important to look at both the current and future generations of older people, and it is useful to start by examining the scope of technology.

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