Published: 25-05-2021 14:48 | Updated: 25-05-2021 14:50

New thesis investigates older adults' use of Everyday Technologies and its impact on everyday life

Hi there, Sarah Wallcook, PhD student at the Division of Occupational Therapy! On June 10 you will defend your thesis “Conditions of everyday technology use and its Interplay in the lives of older adults with and without dementia”. What is the main focus of your thesis?

Sarah Wallcook, PhD student at the Division of Occupational Therapy, NVS. Photo: Private.

This thesis focuses on Everyday Technologies (e.g. travel ticket machines and systems, smart devices i.e smartphone, internet banking) as an inevitable, increasing and changing part of life at home and in society. These technologies may make aspects of everyday life more convenient for some people but more challenging for others. This thesis focusses upon older adults, especially people with dementia, to investigate what shapes the use of these technologies and how different aspects of everyday life outside home are impacted.

Which are the most important results? 

This thesis found everyday technology use to be highly variable between different contexts: internationally, geographically (i.e. rural and urban) and personally (i.e. whether a person has dementia, lives alone, is reliant upon driving, has access to quality telecommunications infrastructures). These conditions and how they shaped a person’s use of technology were found to impact upon people’s participation outside home in ways that could both stabilize, but could also destabilize and threaten everyday life.

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?

This knowledge is significant for improving people’s potential to be included in society and to continue participating in all aspects of life outside home, for example shopping, banking, healthcare. To achieve an improvement in inclusion and participation it is important that technology is considered as a potential cause of problems in everyday life rather than as the solution to problems. Reducing the challenge of Everyday Technologies and the pressure to use them in society will better uphold the rights of older adults with and without dementia to participate producing societies that are more friendly for everyone.