Over the past 20 decades, there has been a tremendous and steady growth in the world’s population due to improved health care facilities, sanitation and knowledge; technology has drastically improved administration of health complications as well as reducing infant mortality rates leading to an increase in human population. In addition, technology has also enhanced disease diagnosis procedures leading to early treatment as well as preventing killer diseases. The overall result of improved healthcare administration is an increased life expectancy; today, there are more senior citizens leading a healthy elderly life than decades ago. Technology has caught up with major sectors of our livelihoods ranging from healthcare, communication, war fare and education. In order for technology to remain relevant in our lives, solutions should be designed to cater for various age groups.
There are countless mobile devices from major industry players today than a few decades ago; however, designing technology solutions suiting all age groups from teens, youth to aging population has been a great challenge. Recently at the society for international development world congress held at the Omni-shore hotel in Washington DC from July 29-31, 2011; the world’s aging population became a hot issue where speakers attempted to define exactly to what extend the aging population and senior citizens were relevant to ICT 4D initiatives and what considerations should be adhered to in designing technology solutions suitable for senior citizens. Although there has been an attribution of reduced fertility rates among women due to technology, there are several benefits that senior citizens and the world’s overall aging population can gain from technology;
- Text messages can serve as reminders for health related issues
- Mobile Phone money transfer services such as Safaricom’s Mpesa in Kenya can help aging population maintain their bank accounts
- Social networks can serve as an intermediary between senior citizens and governments in offering services and political participation.
The most obvious fact about technology is its suitability variance depending on age, gender, ethnicity and disabilities; in order for ICT 4D’s to have a significant impact in alleviating social problems such as poverty and improving the quality of life, several aspects must be brought onboard including customized solutions for aging population, considering individual’s cultural factors and stake holders. Technology products such as radio wouldn’t be suitable for individuals with hearing problems just like textual web content wouldn’t be suitable for illiterate individuals. Factors to be considered when customizing technology for the aging population can be categorized into physical such as sight impairment and mobility constraints and cultural factors that may include language, literacy and education background as well as willingness to adapt the emerging technology. Customized technology solutions for different age groups will not only increase sales to service providers but bring onboard all market segments and making every citizen feel part of the organization.