In the Dutch groups, questions were repeatedly asked about the use of mobile phones and other technical devices. It became obvious that older people are facing a huge digital gap.
In almost every part of their lives, they have to communicate digitally: with the bank, with authorities, doctors and the pharmacy, with health insurers, travelling, about Covid security, ordering in a restaurant with QR codes, digital shopping, etc. Many older people can hardly keep up with how quickly things are changing.
As our experience show, it makes sense to take up these issues in groups. Group meetings can be used to learn about new technical aids, discuss specific questions and practise digital skills together. The knowledge and resources of participants can be used: Someone might be familiar with a digital tool, someone else might be very familiar with how to use another one. Together you will get much further!
There are also many digital tools for older people that are less well known. For example, memory assistance, when it is time to take medication. Or social robots and apps to keep in touch with others or that remind of activities during the day. We have noticed that older people like to be involved in these things and find them useful as long as they fit in with their daily activities and their needs. To give two concrete examples:
At the Saffier care centre in The Hague north, neighbourhood Benoordenhout, a loan service for digital aids has been started. Several resources and aids have been shown to the participants of the neighbourhood group. The participants, for instance, have been able to experience virtual reality glasses and ended up in the Ferris wheel on the beach of Scheveningen or on the district bus to the library. Our participants found this experience very instructive and inspiring.
Participants of the Transvaal neighbourhood group received a tablet on loan. During the Dreamlike Neighbourhood meetings, they continuously practiced all kind of things, such as planning routes, taking public transport, looking up information.
Continue to live independently as long as possible: technology helps people to have control over their own life. As experience shows, learning from each other is really stimulating!