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Home arrow Engineering arrow Designing technology training for older adults in continuing care retirement communities
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five Value of technology training

As discussed in earlier chapters of this book, technological devices and applications have a wide variety of potential benefits to users. The obvious benefits are practical ones, as devices such as Internet-connected computers and smartphones grant users unprecedented access to information that can improve daily living, provide new methods of communication to help reinforce old relationships and social ties, and be used to develop new relationships. For example, a person with diabetes may use an Internet- connected smartphone to find information on popular and reliable treatment methods or possibly download an application (or "app") that can help treat and manage the disease. Likewise, a person with depression may use a search engine (such as Google) on any Internet-connected device to look for online treatment options and assistance in managing symptoms. With regard to communication, people with a mental health issue such as depression can access online support groups or forums and engage with others to discuss experiences and evaluate treatment options.

A successful technological intervention can improve people's ability to use devices and applications both in an information-seeking and communicative capacity; that is, a technology class can train people to better find health information online and train people to get in touch with friends, family, and others (including doctors) to discuss health considerations. But there are benefits of a technology training that go beyond just the more immediate practical considerations, as technology classes have the potential to promote more positive attitudes toward technology, increase self-efficacy (i.e., a person's belief in his or her own success), increase overall technology use, and improve quality of life. These benefits can be especially pronounced in CCRC populations, as older adults tend to have more negative attitudes toward computers and the Internet and have lower technology use compared to other age groups. CCRC residents are also at risk of feeling detached from society, less autonomous and in control of their lives, and less enriched and fulfilled. Technology use can help to mitigate these negative feelings and attitudes.

The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the potential benefits of technology training for older adults by highlighting findings from previous research studies as well as discussing specific results from our study (previously presented in depth in Chapter 3). Although the costs

of implementing a technology intervention in a CCRC can be high when all things are considered (including the price of equipment, transportation, and hiring instructors), the advantages of technology training to the residents are numerous, such as connecting them with family and friends, encouraging positive attitudes toward technology, and helping them feel more connected to society. These and other benefits justify the potential expense (money, effort, and time) associated with the training.

 
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