Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

The View Spring 2012

Keeping silver surfers on the crest of a wave

Elderly man using laptop

We are an ageing society. Sixteen per cent of the UK population is 65 or older, and for the first time there are more people over the age of 65 than there are under the age of 18. Whilst to some older people the information superhighway remains a mystery, there are increasing numbers who are using computers and a whole range of technologies to enjoy life to the full. But what more needs to be done to ensure the over 50s can continue to fully participate in e-society throughout their senior years? Loughborough University’s Department of Information Science has been finding out.

New technologies have enormous potential to help older people live independently by countering problems with mobility, health and loneliness. Governments and other agencies are putting tremendous efforts into helping older people to go online, but an important challenge is that those who become regular and confident technology users face barriers in continuing to use them as they age.

Visit the Sus-IT website for further information.

The ‘Sus-IT (Sustaining Information Technology use by older people to promote autonomy and independence)’ project is working to overcome this. It is being led by Professor Leela Damodaran as Principal Investigator and Wendy Olphert as Lead Co-investigator, working alongside Dr Colin Machin and colleagues from the Department of Computer Science, and seven other universities – Anglia Ruskin, Middlesex, Dundee, Lincoln, Nottingham Trent, Northumbria and Surrey.

The project is being funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) Programme. The NDA is a seven year multidisciplinary research initiative with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of life of older people. The programme is the largest and most ambitious research programme on ageing ever mounted in the UK.

“Sus-IT has far-reaching ramifications for our society and economy,” Professor Damodaran explains. “Fundamentally it is about gaining a better understanding of how older people can participate actively in our e-society and helping them to achieve this; to do nothing would mean letting a large section of our population become more and more socially isolated and financially disadvantaged.”