Activity and participation among older people

Äldre på promenad

To be able to continue being active and involved even at an advanced age is regarded as a potential contributing factor for improved quality of life and health. By maintaining an active life style and participating in society, several healthy years may be added to an individual’s life, which is significant for health and the possibility of remaining at home at an advanced age. Active ageing is to age in good health and as a complete citizen. 

Active ageing emphasises taking part in society, optimising health possibilities, involvement and security in order to achieve improved quality of life. More and more older people are, and will be, able to be active into older age. This also applies for people who are ageing with a lifelong functional disability. It is important for most elderly people to be able to stay in their own home for as long as possible. Remaining at home supports the individual’s habits, roles, activity and participation, despite limitations caused by illnesses and advanced age. In the public sector, and in society as a whole, there is great confidence that technological solutions are capable of increasing older people’s independence and help them to carry on living in their own home. Technological solutions can also contribute to increased accessibility and possibilities to remain in place, but also imply challenges for many older people.

How do older people perceive and use technology?

Reasons for using existing technology may indicate how technology should be designed and introduced in order to increase usability for this group of users.

Existing technology changes when developments and adaptations are integrated in it. New user interfaces are developed and implemented which can simplify the technology, but also make it more complicated. In order for technology to prevent dependence, it needs to be used in a way that older people can recognise and accept. Achieving this will require more knowledge about how older people perceive and use technology, both that which they already have and newer technology. Being a technology user is an important part of being able to be active in society, even for people in the oldest old group, but there is still a shortage of studies into what technology means and how it can be used in the +80 age group. Older people themselves are significant actors in this.

Research about older people focuses particularly on everyday life and opportunities for activity and participation in society for different groups of older people. So far the research has been mainly about people who live in their own homes, with or without a dementia diagnosis, and people with intellectual disabilities who live in Group homes under the Act concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Disabilities (LSS). Issues of ageing, participation, remaining at home and technology use are essential elements of this research.

Research projects
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  • Research about older people is often interdisciplinary in nature, and for this reason we collaborate with many different actors in the area.
  • Collaboration with researchers at The National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life (NISAL), with special focus on technology use among older people and ageing with disability.
  • We collaborate with researchers in the the CACTUS research group (Cognitive Accessibility and Technology Use when Ageing in home and Society) at the Division of Occupational therapy, Karolinska Institutet.
  • We have a long-standing collaboration with Norrköping municipality in the area. The project Bo vital – försöksverksamhet Teknik för Äldre Norrköping (a trial for technologies for older people) included participants from the research group, both as accompanying researchers and as steering group members.
  • Collaboration with the project manager from Norrköping municipality also occurs in the project “Can I manage this?” 

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