Throughout the developed world more people live longer, whereas childbirth rates are relatively static or even falling. The result is that as time passes, there are more and more old people in society. Today’s young people, and in turn their children, will grow old in a society of increasingly old people. They will be part of a future in which most can expect to live past 100 years, and some will live much longer. That is our collective future, and it is also our personal future. Unless we are unlucky, we will all live a long time by historical standards, and for much of that time we will be old.
But what quality of life do old people have, and can improve it with ICT? The Q-Life research group has been looking into these questions for several years, largely supported by research funding from the European Union, and the work continues. Currently we are busy with the Senior-IT group in Åsele, as part of the PLACE-EE project. Our Swedish elderly users are trying out ideas and will be testing components and prototypes as the work progresses.
There is a mistaken idea that new ICT is for the young, and that old people are not interested. With our users we have found that this is simply not true. They are very interested, and ICT can improve their lives and wellbeing, if only it is introduced and applied in the right way. Our users have become ambassadors for innovative technology and how it can be part of a better life for the elderly – for the future of all of us who will get older – in other words, for everyone!