Computer use among seniors 80 years and older : narrative inquiry on the benefits and problems
Swartz, Nancy P.
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Subjectcomputers; social participation; elders 80 years and older; social integration theory; narrative inquiry; narrative style interviews; narrative analysis
This thesis examines the role of computer competence in elders’ well-being as they experience a reduced ability to communicate in very old age. My research question was “How do elders over 80 interact with computers? Employing narrative inquiry, I sought stories from 10 elders living in Victoria, B.C. Narrative style open-ended interviews were conducted one on one. Challenging stereotypes, these participants were computer literate people who happen to be very old. Depending on their relationships, learning from their children was a valuable resource. I found no evidence that they required any special senior friendly websites. These elders learned to use what interested them on the computer—no more. The computer is an extension of their ability to communicate their social messages as they age. The denouement of my narrative research is that computers give voice to elders; nevertheless, decision makers need to respect elders’ right to refuse computer uses.
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