Dr. Young, who is Memorial’s Canada Research Chair in Healthy Aging, is heading up the team which is part of an international group looking at why older people are quitting computers and what we can do to help them stay online. Dr. Young and her team will hear from experts from here, the rest of Canada, and the UK on what they think will help older adults continue to use the internet.
Sustaining Information Technology use by older adults to promote autonomy and independence, or Sus-IT, is a three-year project focusing on the problem of digital disengagement and how to prevent it. It’s funded by the UK government’s New Dynamics of Ageing program – the largest research program on ageing ever mounted in the UK. The project is led by Professor Leela Damodaran and Wendy Olphert at Loughborough University, and involves collaboration with eight other universities in the UK as well as the team in Canada. The Memorial team received $225,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, for the Canadian contribution to the research.
According to Dr. Young, Canada and the UK are both reporting increasing numbers of older people who are digitally engaged. “Innovations that improve the lives of older people will be crucial for the well-being of society as a whole. This symposium will bring together representatives from social innovation, health care, community programming, research and many others so we can figure out how to provide people with the best quality of life possible.”
The Newfoundland Sus-IT team is comprised of Stephen Bornstein (NL Centre for Applied Health Research), Veeresh Gadag (Community Health and Humanities), Gerard Farrell (eHealth Research Unit), George Klima and Lan Gien (School of Nursing), Stephen Tomblin (Political Science) and Jared Clarke (NLCAHR Healthy Aging Research Program Post-Doctoral Award), as well as the Seniors Resource Centre and Saint Elizabeth Health Care, the Health Research Unit and the Nursing Research Unit at the School of Nursing.
Organizers of the UK symposium hope to exchange ideas about innovations aimed at improving the well-being of older people in UK and Canada as well as compare practical ways in which innovations can be adopted and shared on a larger scale.