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.
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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.”