Perhaps the greatest gift of life is the ability to share many its aspects with others. We have communication skills and empathies that can enliven mundane tasks and reinforce the greater joys and tragedies of the human experience. As social beings, we seek out these shared experiences from our earliest infancy to our later golden years. For many aging citizens, though, physical limitations and technological impositions can reduce opportunities for socialization, which in turn has been shown to decrease both life quality and life expectancy.
Mostas they age, but that desire also increases the likelihood of growing isolation and falling life quality. How might recent technological innovations keep seniors connected to their peers and their younger family members?
This past June the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) launched the CEA Foundation as a grant-giving organization meant to encourage development of technologies to help older citizens and those with physical disabilities both stay in their beloved homes and to keep in contact with the larger world.
“The goal of the CEA Foundation is to use our considerable resources and access to technology to bring that technology to people who would otherwise never get to use it,” said John Shalam, founder of Audiovox Corporation (now VOXX International Corporation) and chairman of the board. “This first grant to Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center will offer the homebound visual contact with the outside world without ever having to leave their homes, which many of them can’t. Anyone who has ever cared for a shut-in knows the single worse aspect of age or disability is often the loneliness it causes.” (quote taken from a )
Plenty of survey evidence − much of which about 70% of seniors between about 60 and 75 are involved in social networks and being online. But that same evidence shows a pretty lumpy landscape with economic class and race being notable delimiters of who is online. The CEA Foundation wants to broaden the opportunities for seniors by encouraging entrepreneurship and by expanding available technologies to more groups. The winner of the first grant was Selfhelp Community Services in New York City, which is developing a ‘Virtual Senior Center’ for socializing and education.− shows that
That said, all these organization stress the fact that improving technology and access to it are important, but the technology needs to be a means, not an end: “that technology should never be about replacing human contact—rather, it should be about creating more robust relationship between people, whether it’s between two older adults, between an older adult and a medical professional, or between caregivers and their loved ones,” says Shannon McIntyre, company spokesperson for Intel-GE Care Innovations.
Is your organization looking at technologies as a way to serve the growing community of American seniors? Be sure to look into the CEA Foundation for ideas and for financial support!