Inclusion of older adults in the research and design of digital technology

Ittay Mannheim, Ella Schwartz, Wanyu Xi, Sandra C. Buttigieg, Mary McDonnell-Naughton, Eveline J.M. Wouters, Yvonne van Zaalen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Digital technology holds a promise to improve older adults’ well-being and promote ageing in place. However, there seems to be a discrepancy between digital technologies that are developed and what older adults actually want and need. Ageing is stereotypically framed as a problem needed to be fixed, and older adults are considered to be frail and incompetent. Not surprisingly, many of the technologies developed for the use of older adults focus on care. The exclusion of older adults from the research and design of digital technology is often based on such negative stereotypes. In this opinion article, we argue that the inclusion rather than exclusion of older adults in the design process and research of digital technology is essential if technology is to fulfill the promise of improving well-being. We emphasize why this is important while also providing guidelines, evidence from the literature, and examples on how to do so. We unequivocally state that designers and researchers should make every effort to ensure the involvement of older adults in the design process and research of digital technology. Based on this paper, we suggest that ageism in the design process of digital technology might play a role as a possible barrier of adopting technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3718
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume16
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Ageism
  • Digital technology
  • Ethics
  • Inclusion
  • Older adults

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