Digital technology can help older people lead quality lives

Global Telecommunications and the Information Society Today (May 17)

The aging of the global population will be the defining demographic trend of the 21st century and society is struggling to find the opportunities that this trend can bring. Telecommunications and information technologies have a role to play in achieving healthier aging and can also help people build smarter cities (which are age-friendly), tackle discrimination based on age in the workplace, to ensure financial inclusion for older people and to support millions of caregivers around the world. world

Older people who have contributed to society during their prime time should be able to use digital technologies to lead a comfortable life. They should not be left behind in the use of digital technologies. These digital technologies/devices should be simple and age-friendly. Digital technologies should also help them live healthy lives and age gracefully. Their knowledge and experience in the field should be profitably disseminated to the society with the help of ICT so that the society benefits and the elderly people also feel satisfied to continue contributing to the society.

Every year, May 17 is celebrated as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The former name of the day was World Telecommunication Day to celebrate the founding of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on May 17, 1865. Following the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, the Assembly General of the United Nations proclaimed May 17 as World Information Society Day. The ITU conference in Antalya (Turkey) in November 2006 decided to celebrate these two events on May 17, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The objective of this celebration is to raise awareness of the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) in society and the economy and to reduce the digital divide.

Theme for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, 2022

Every year ITU declares a theme for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day and this year’s theme is “Digital Technologies for Older Persons and Healthy Aging”. The theme emphasizes the importance of using telecommunications and information technology to enable older adults to stay physically, emotionally and financially healthy, connected and independent. Supporting a healthy aging life is also essential for the sustainability of economic and health systems. ITU hopes to encourage initiatives to accelerate digital technologies for older people and healthy aging that will contribute to the United Nations Decade for Healthy Aging.

Messages on this occasion

ITU Secretary-General’s message on the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2022 (WTISD 2022) – “Digital technologies are a crucial enabler for healthy aging for everyone. Equitable access to digital technologies is not just a moral responsibility, it is essential for global prosperity As we celebrate ITU’s history, we reiterate our commitment to extending digital access to all regions and at all ages. The Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in her massage on this occasion said that “harnessing the potential of digital innovation is imperative to achieve universal health coverage for older people”

The aging of the global population will be the defining demographic trend of the 21st century and society is struggling to find the opportunities that this trend can bring. Telecommunications and information technologies have a role to play in achieving healthier aging and can also help people build smarter cities (which are age-friendly), tackle discrimination based on age in the workplace, to ensure financial inclusion for older people and to support millions of caregivers around the world. world. ITU calls on Member States to use ICTs to develop digital policies and strategies and to use digital technologies to enable older people to age in good health. ITU calls on members and universities to continue fostering cooperation and partnerships in digital innovation and knowledge/literacy, creating opportunities for economic, social and political growth and harnessing new possibilities to enhance inclusion digital and age-friendly digital environments.

Older people who have contributed to society during their prime time should be able to use digital technologies to lead a comfortable life. They should not be left behind in the use of digital technologies. These digital technologies/devices should be simple and age-friendly. Digital technologies should also help them live healthy lives and age gracefully. Their knowledge and experience in the field should be profitably disseminated to the society with the help of ICT so that the society benefits and the elderly people also feel satisfied to continue contributing to the society.

The world population is ageing. People over 60 for the first time outnumber children under 5. Their number is expected to reach 2 billion by 2050. Older people are an asset to their families and societies. However, they are seen as vulnerable and dependent on the younger generation.

The digital world will enable older people to participate and contribute to societies transforming the misconception of vulnerable into valuable. In the interconnected world, ICTs can empower and contribute to independent and fulfilling lives for the elderly of today and tomorrow. ICTs, if provided in accessible and user-friendly formats and platforms, can be valuable enablers for older people to help them easily overcome age-related limitations, including hearing, dexterity and impairments. visual.

How are digital technologies useful for seniors?

• Smart TV allows hearing aid users to enjoy all types of entertainment content with their family.

• Using a 5G-enabled AR (augmented reality)/VR (virtual reality) headset, the visually impaired person can be connected in real time to a live advisor who can provide guidance to perform certain activities of daily living such as crossing the road.

• Using virtual assistive technology, older people can obtain all kinds of information and access services online. Zoom functions can be used to increase font size for easier reading. The digital context reduces distances and avoids isolation and loneliness. It also facilitates the active participation of seniors in all aspects of today’s society.

��� They can easily purchase products/services at their doorstep using e-commerce platforms, manage their finances and payments conveniently using online banking, and continue their lifelong learning through online learning platforms.

• Smart health devices have eliminated the need for human interference and will therefore be useful for the elderly.

��� They can contribute to society by sharing their valuable experiences online and harnessing a constructive dialogue between generations.

In 2020, the global market value of older people, the so-called “money economy,” was estimated to be US$17 trillion and growing. There is a huge business opportunity for this untapped market. To help member countries create accessible and age-friendly ICT environments, ITU has developed the report “Ageing in a Digital World, from Vulnerable to Precious”. The report raises awareness of trends and best practices, provides guidelines for ensuring healthy, happy and valuable aging, and empowers older people as active participants in their digital communities and societies.

Go forward

In some smart cities, IOT (Internet of Things) sensors are used in traffic lights to track the sidewalk and identify if an elderly person is passing. Upon identification, the intelligent traffic system automatically increases pedestrian crossing time.

To ensure that in smart cities suitable services are provided to the elderly, it is necessary to involve the elderly in the planning phase so that the required services using IOT, AI (artificial intelligence) and ML technologies ( machine learning) are built to make their lives easier.

By creating an accessible and inclusive digital environment, seniors can adapt technology to their specific abilities and needs. They should be warned not to reveal their passwords and bank details so that they do not fall prey to online fraudsters.

5G technology supports self-driving cars (driverless cars). When introduced, they are a better choice for older people as they may find it difficult to get around in high traffic cities and at the same time they should not be dependent on others for their transportation needs.

(The author is a former adviser to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India)

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