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IFA Virtual Town Hall Chat Summary 29 May 2020

The following chat summary is from the IFA Virtual Town Hall on 29 May 2020 with Ms. Grace Chan and Mr. Simon K Y Wong, sharing on technology and innovation as enablers.


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Overcoming challenges with technology

  • Have older people raised specific challenges regarding the use of technology, and how have these been addressed?
  • Some older adults living alone find it difficult to adapt with the technology and somehow quite a number of older adults have no access to the internet, hence they cannot use the technology even to FaceTime with their families.
  • Has there been attention to designing technology with deaf and/or blind older persons to respond to their needs and values?
  • There is interest to know how older people over the age of 85 deal with technological interventions.
  • The India Ageing Study developed a home based exercise program involving older people living in old age homes and also in communities. Participants were trained for 16 weeks but less than 10% expressed comfort in digital platform used in the program.  Providing mobile support was challenging and some participants expressed hesitancy and fear to the technology.  Overall participants reported they are highly motivated with the exercise program and they are eager to learn.
  • There is no shortage of activities and technology in use around the world but there is technology fatigue. A recent survey of participants in Dublin City University reported the lack of socialisation and physical contact is of concern.
  • Older people greatly experience economic, physical and social barriers. Functional declines, gender, education, culture and accessibility are associated barriers in use of technology and mobile health in older people, which curtails them using new innovations.  Age-friendly and cost-effective devices accompanied by a shared social responsibility of improving digital awareness of older people may help to overcome these barriers in time.


Co-designing technology with older people

  • Older persons’ groups in Hong Kong have been a great strength in the local Age-friendly work. How have they been involved in assisting the work on new technologies?
  • The importance of tapping into the knowledge of older people was mentioned. Have older people been involved in co-created design of products or consultant strategies on COVID?
  • Have there been surprising solutions invented by older people when they have been involved in co-design?
  • This town hall illustrates there are many similarities in the issues and concerns facing older people around the world. As part of an Age-Friendly program in Ireland, Acorn is an Age-Friendly Smart Tablet, that is specially designed with and for the older adult and intended for connecting generations.
  • When technology such as the electronic wristband is used to encourage older people to stay home it is important that they have the choice of using or not using technology.
  • There needs to be a balance between human touch and technology, with an ideal goal of achieving both “high touch” and “high tech.”


Data security

  • How can we ensure big data analytics are secure considering there is so much personal information about resident and potential family members (additional contact information) being tracked and stored?
  • In countries like India, digital awareness, access and availability of age-friendly digital tools may be a dream. How do we deal with ethics involved in technology application in the care and monitoring of older people?


Financial concerns

  • There is scarcity of human resources to provide technological support to older people at care centres.
  • How is financing secured for developing and distributing these technology for older persons? Is the government involved in funding?


Planning for the future

  • If you were to build a new long-term care facility how would the design differ compared to pre-COVID?


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