Tablets making technology easier to swallow

Seniors with tablet from Shutterstock

Gaining access to the internet is becoming easier for the ageing community, with the introduction of tablet technologies such as Apple’s iPad.

Flinders University’s Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) has been funded by the Office for the Ageing, SA Health, to make tablet technology more accessible to the ageing community.

In partnership with Seniors Information Service (SIS), the MDPP has developed and provided educational sessions to equip SIS staff and volunteers to provide information and teach seniors skills in tablet usage and internet services.

MDPP Senior Research Associate, Dr Fabian Lim, said the overall aim of the project was to raise awareness within the ageing community and increase internet usage among older people via touchscreen tablets.

Previous research indicates that people aged over 65 have a lower rate of internet usage. This is a major concern for an ageing population where there is an increasing reliance on the internet as the medium for social connectivity, and access to information and services.

A review by the MDPP in June 2009, looking at technology for older persons, revealed a need for low cost technologies with simplified interfaces.

“Touchscreen tablets are a good candidate for connecting technology-averse people to the internet due to the relatively low cost and intuitive interface,” Dr Lim said.

“Tablet devices with a 3G internet connection require substantially less infrastructure over PCs and laptops – both hardware and software. In addition, the touchscreen interface is generally far more intuitive to use over the traditional mouse and keyboard interface,” he said.

In a follow up survey from the training, participants indicated they wanted more educational sessions in tablet technology, supporting the need for further workshops and support which SIS will seek to promote.

SIS CEO, Jenny Hughes said that “participants were very positive and said the workshops made them feel comfortable and confident in using the technology”.

“By using volunteers, SIS has been able to provide ongoing support and training for seniors,” Mrs Hughes said.

The project is part of Office for the Ageing’s ongoing support of older people engaging with technology, so they can enjoy the many benefits – social, economic and educational – of being connected in the 21st century.

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