The Role of Information and Communications Technology to Help Facilitate Aging in Place

Rutherford, Haley
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

In the field of gerontology, it is recognized that older adults want to remain at home, even when their needs change. Over the past decade, research has grown in the field of independent senior living. The use of technology, ranging from cell phones and assistive devices to smart homes, may enable older adults to age in place. The goal of this research was to explore the role of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and to understand whether such technology can help facilitate aging in place for older adults living in a prairie city in Canada. Data was collected through 20 semistructured interviews with adults (65 or older) living in Regina, SK. This research explored ICT use by older adults and found that it contributed to maintaining safety, health, and quality of life. This qualitative study was guided by grounded theory methodology, which helped to enabled emergence of themes related to the use of ICT and how it allows older adults to feel connected to their loved ones and their surroundings. Participants identified four positive attributes that make remaining at home desirable. These included: having personal domain, being able to connect to their surroundings, having connections with family and friends and being able to personalize their own space. Upkeep and home maintenance made remaining in their homes a challenge. When the participants were asked to share their insights into ICT three themes that emerged, including being connected to their family and friends, communicating with these individuals, and the positive and negative perceptions of ICT. It is hoped that this thesis will provide information for older adults, their caregivers, home builders/developers and policy makers, as it will highlight the potential role of technology in achieving the goal of keeping older adults in their homes.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Kinesiology & Health Studies, University of Regina. viii, 159 p.