Senior citizens evaluating welfare technology: User experiences in SENER-project
In an aging society, it is important to work for finding ways to integrate seniors in the society and to pursue
seniors’ wellbeing and independent living. The aim of this research is to explore the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) in enhancing active aging. More precisely, the research examines user experiences of 24 senior citizens in piloting health technology, the wellbeing box products, in the SENER-project.
The data were collected in interviews including semi-structured questions concerning senior citizens’ experiences. In addition to qualitative data, information about usage times of tested devices or programs was analyzed to construct user type categories.
Three main type categories emerged: drop-outs, passive users, and active users. Drop-outs were too fragile to see more benefit than nuisance in the devices. In cases of passive users, families benefited more of the devices than the seniors themselves. Active users used the devices and programs themselves in various ways, for example monitored their health.
Senior citizens are heterogeneous in their use of ICT. Products of the wellbeing box were motivating in the sense of active aging policy if there existed an interest in health promotion. Seniors must not feel too fragile, and they have to see more benefits than nuisance in the use of ICT if they want to start to use it. Devices must not have technical problems, and enough guidance that matches the skills of the users must be offered. Senior citizens do not want technology to replace human help, but health information gathered by monitoring devices could be transmitted to home help personnel.