Connecting at Local Level: Exploring Opportunities for Future Design of Technology to Support Social Connections in Age-Friendly Communities

This academic paper by a consortia led by the University of Newcastle appeared in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. It presents findings from interviews with 22 older adults that looked into the role of digital technology to maintain social connectedness in later life. It found that it is an important dimension of an age-friendly community, with associated implications for individual health and wellbeing but also showed that technology was largely absent from day-to-day life and even perceived as contributing to disconnection.

The research also highlights a need for design work to understand the specifics of the local context and reduce emphasis on technology as the interface between people. It introduces an amended definition of age-friendliness which is underpinned by a commitment to respect and social inclusion, so that an age-friendly community is engaged in a strategic and ongoing process to facilitate active ageing by optimising the community’s physical, social and digital environments and its supporting infrastructure.