Barriers to usage among older adults in a CCRC

When older adults move into the CCRC, perceptions of themselves as old, especially in terms of the learning process, may become enhanced. Such perceptions may be especially salient when older adults have the opportunity to learn how to use technology. Their negative perceptions can be overcome, but older adults must be convinced that what they will receive from using the technology is worth the effort of overcoming perceived barriers to use, such as being too old to learn. Technology use in the context of a CCRC allows residents to stay in touch with family and friends and achieve feelings of connection beyond their physical community, thus improving their quality of life. Using a computer and the Internet is an effective tool in overcoming both social barriers (removal from social networks) and spatial barriers (physical distance from previous homes and communities) that are often experienced by older adults who move into a CCRC. Various aspects of well-being have been shown to improve when older adults learn to use computers and the Internet; studies have shown the efficacy of usage in aspects of well-being, such as maintaining important social ties, increasing perceptions of productivity and better cognitive functioning, and higher self-esteem. Even for older adults in the higher age brackets, such as those over 80 years old, using ICTs can help them with social stimulation and connection.

There is a diversity of mental health benefits of ICT use for older adults, which include reduced loneliness, lessened feelings of depression, lowered perceived stress, increased perceptions of personal growth and achievement of individual goals, and renewed feelings of independence, especially for residents who had to transition into a CCRC because of some circumstance beyond their control. Using the computer and Internet is beneficial to older adults in general, but it may be especially beneficial to older adults with some form of disability. It enables them to feel less isolated, providing a virtual means of connection to friends and family, and has the potential to provide a tool for virtual performance of daily tasks, such as shopping or banking.

Technology use can also be useful for enabling older adults removed from former life roles to present and maintain identity when they move away from home into a CCRC.

Technology potentially can play a role in redefining and reshaping attitudes about the meaning of place, so that removal from place is not tantamount to losing identity. Although a CCRC can present attributes of home that allows residents to form an attachment to a new "home," using the Internet offers a means of transcending place and connecting with modern society.

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