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Aging and Technology

Stephen J. Cutler

Subject Sociology of Health, Aging, and Medicine » Sociology of Aging

Key-Topics age, technology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Aging and technology stand in a reciprocal relationship to each other. On the one hand, technological change has numerous implications for older persons and for how they experience the process of aging. On the other hand, individual aging and population aging may be viewed as catalysts shaping the nature of technological development and change. To illustrate, technological developments in the areas of health and medicine (including advances in birth control technology) have been among the factors contributing to increases in life expectancy and to population aging. Initially concentrated in western societies, population aging has now become a worldwide phenomenon as birth rates decline and life expectancy increases in nations across the globe. As environments (e.g., one's home or neighborhood) become more taxing, demanding, and challenging because of frailties and mobility limitations associated with aging, technology can redress such imbalances, reduce what Lawton and Nahemow (1973) refer to as environmental press, and enhance person–environment fit. Various types of assistive devices can compensate for sensory and mobility problems that are more prevalent at the older ages, lengthen the period of independence, and reduce reliance on informal and formal caregivers. The advent of personal computing and the emergence of the Internet can facilitate social interaction and social integration, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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