How to include aging population in the technology revolution

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Washington, Nov 8 (ANI): While technology has opened newer avenues for youngsters and working adults, the same doesn't hold true for the aging population.

Now, in recent study, psychologists Neil Charness and Walter R. Boot from Florida State University have outlined these limitations and suggested improvements.

They claim that the key to including the aging population in information technology is to adopt design principles that are age sensitive.

The researchers said that there are several age-related changes that affect technology use in older adults, including difficulties with vision, audition, motor control and cognition.

Specifically, older adults experience reduced visual acuity, colour perception and susceptibility to glare.

They also encounter a greater difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds and perceive a greater interference from background noises.

As for motor skills, ailments such as arthritis can limit a person's use of technology as well.

Aging is also associated with a general slowing of cognitive processes, decreased memory capacity and attentional control, and difficulties with goal maintenance.

It also takes older adults twice as long to learn new information compared to younger adults.

"These changes in function can slow performance and result in a greater number of errors as older adults interact with technology that was not designed with their capabilities in mind," explained the authors.

The psychologists suggest web designers should avoid backgrounds that create low contrast for text, use larger fonts, minimize scrolling and provide navigation aids and instructional support.

They also recommend designers undergo training that takes into account age-related perceptual and cognitive changes.

The authors explain that these changes will alleviate some of the stress of learning and using new technologies, but it will not eliminate difficulties all-together.

"It is reasonable to assume that technology will continue to advance rapidly. Also, perceptual, cognitive and psychomotor declines will continue to occur with aging," they concluded.

The study has been published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)

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