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Aging in the Digital Era – Digital Equity for the All Ages

digital equity for seniors

The advent of the internet and digital technologies in the twenty-first century has enormously transformed this world into ‘online’ venue. Social media has become a prominent influence for decision-making in the digital era. Innumerable consumer-friendly services are now easily accessible irrespective of your global location. That’s astounding, right? Meanwhile, the ‘offline’ services which fail to embrace the fast-moving innovations are affected badly and being pushed to the so-called ‘excluded’ category. Any guesses on who is impacted the most by this transition? Yes, it is the aging population that is not technology-savvy as the youngsters thereby creating a huge digital divide!

Interestingly the demand for these services has grown exponentially in the COVID-19 pandemic as people, especially elders, are largely confined to their homes. They are struggling to access essential products and services online ranging from food items and medicines to financial transactions, doctor consultations and vaccination bookings. So, there is a compelling need to establish digital equity to improve the quality of senior lifestyle and ensure these facilities are available seamlessly. All forms of elderly care should therefore endeavour to work towards this objective. Athulya Assisted Living, a premier assisted living home in Chennai, is a pioneer in providing state-of-art facilities and utilizing technology to facilitate blissful and hassle-free retired life.

The professional geriatric caregivers at Athulya Assisted Living only help the residents in daily living activities but also assist them in using devices and technology to learn new skills, remain socially connected and manage their health. This wonderful initiative assumes a special significance on 1st October which is celebrated as International Older Persons Day. Let us now see its relevance with the United Nations programme specifically themed this year in an attempt to provide ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’.

Digital Equity – Objectives

  • To protect ageism and human rights by reinforcing awareness for digital inclusion of the older generation while combating stereotypes, discrimination and prejudice issues.
  • To frame and implement policies that promotes leveraging of digital technologies for achieving sustainable growth.
  • To promote access and digital literacy by filling the existing gaps in terms of infrastructure, availability, affordability, connectivity, upgradability, design and innovation.
  • To implement policies, regulations and framework to completely safeguard and protect the privacy and safety of elders in the new digitized world.
  • To provide better accountability by highlighting the need for legally binding mechanisms that are particularly targeted to uphold the rights of elders.
  • To develop a multifaceted person-centric human rights approach to fully address the demands of society at large for ages to come.

Features and Benefits

  • Facilitates equal access to goods and services by utilizing digital technology-There are policy initiatives that promote access, affordability and availability of digitization across various segments of the society. Tailored support is also provided for executing routine activities including banking, government services, e-commerce activities and telehealth support.
  • Lessens the digital divide by improving digital literacy-It is very important to have technical skills for acquiring digital literacy and inclusion. But our elders have spent a major portion of their lives without any exposure to even the basic computer skills. So, digital skill training especially for the elders gets the highest priority for harvesting the benefits of this initiative.
  • Utilize the capabilities of digital technology for better health and active aging-The digital world offers enormous benefits to elderly people. This market is endeavouring to meet the challenging needs of aging with various health monitoring and assistive devices for seniors like reminder clocks and fall prevention aids. Likewise, fitness apps for seniors like Mighty Health, MayMyWalk and HealthifyMe are available for tracking activity and fitness levels and recommending the right balanced diets for overall well-being.
  • Safeguard the rights of senior citizens in the digital era-Despite the innumerable benefits of digitization, certain crucial risks need to be cautiously mitigated. The healthcare sector must ensure that all care practices are fair, ethical and transparent and fully protect the autonomy and privacy of vulnerable old people. It should also ensure secure online financial transactions to prevent insurance frauds and scams.

As today’s life is literally moving ‘online’, the digital era is both a lifesaver and a hindrance for countries like India where more than half the population lacks basic internet access. On this International Older Persons Day 2021, let us pledge to strive together to diminish the divide and establish digital equity to restore the due privileges to our beloved senior citizens! 

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