Anticipated needs and worries about maintaining independence of rural/remote older adults: Opportunities for technology development in the context of the double digital divide

Megan E. O'Connell, Andrea Scerbe, Katelyn Wiley, Ben Gould, James Carter, Carrie Bourassa, Debra Morgan, Kristen Jacklin, Wayne Warry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding user needs is fundamental to the development of useful technology. Rural/ remote older adults are vulnerable due to restricted access to local supports and services and are, therefore, the quintessential end-users for assistive technology development. A sample of 337 older adults (M = 69.5; SD = 6.89; range 60-87 years old) was recruited from randomly selected telephone numbers (land lines and cell phones) listed for persons residing outside metropolitan areas of a mid-west region in Canada. Participants responded to an open-ended question regarding a time when they needed assistance, and data were thematically analyzed (with NVIVO for support). Most described needing physical assistance due to strength limitations or various medical conditions, and many described needing help using technology (such as turning on a computer or burning a CD). An open-ended question was also asked regarding older adults' 'worries' about maintaining independence as they advanced in age. Although almost one third of the sample denied any worries associated with aging, almost a quarter of the sample reported worries were related to aging in the context of geographic isolation and lack of accessible services. Additional worries were characterized as general anxiety about independence, taking care of their home, and moving into assisted or residential living. These data suggest technology developed to augment physical tasks will be critical for rural/remote older adults but also highlights the need for intuitive and useable technologies that mitigate geographic isolation and increases accessibility of services. We discuss these findings in the context of a rural adaptation to the technology acceptance model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-138
Number of pages13
JournalGerontechnology
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Keywords

  • Older adults
  • Remote
  • Rural
  • Technology acceptance model
  • User needs

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