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Technology In Later Life (TILL) Project

The Technology In Later Life (TILL) project is an International, Multi-centred Exploratorystudy comprising of 2 countries (UK and Canada) and 4 sites (Milton Keynes, South Wales, Regina, McBride).

Technology use has grown across the age cohort of baby boomers (currently 50-69 years) and many studies have published the effects of technology use for health improvement in this cohort and younger groups. However little is known about the uses of technology on a day-to-day basis, including the perceptions and privacy issues, that adults in later life (70+ years) experience and the barriers and enablers which result in their technology use or not. It is estimated the ageing population in the 21st Century will reach unprecedented figures: the fastest growing populations are persons aged 85+ years and the highest proportion are older adults aged 65+ years (ONS, 2013). Although academics are focusing their attention to seeking innovative approaches to aid independent living via integrated technologies relating to the onset of ageing, there is, however, little knowledge and understanding of technology use by adults aged 70+ years. Gaining this information is crucial to facilitate this preparation.

Project Objectives:
The TILL Project has four objectives:
1. To understand and ascertain the different types of technologies employed presently by persons aged 70+ years and how these types of technology have impacted on their lives to enhance their quality of life and well-being.
2. To ascertain what/if any privacy concerns they may have when using their technology devices.
3. To ascertain what/if any usability issues/concerns persons 70+ years have encountered and what could be utilised to provide realistic solutions.
4. To speculate what type of technology these persons foresee in the future, and what could/should be developed to enhance quality of life/well-being.

Literature Overview:
There has been some attempt to understand and ascertain technology use by persons aged 70+ years in the UK (through the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK)) and in the U.S.A. (e.g. The Pew Research Centre). However these are limited studies and those that have been published are several years old (e.g. Zickuhr & Madden, 2012; Orlov, 2011; Berry, 2011; Sinclaire, 2010; Roberts, 2009; Lloyd, 2007). However, with the phenomena of ageing societies nationally and worldwide, technology can and is playing a part in facilitating ageing in place, and to aid physical health impairments (see Marston & Smith, 2012). Previously, studies have primarily focused on adults in the baby boomer cohort (currently 50-69 years) with specific remits (e.g. Fall prevention). Yet, to the knowledge of the PI and CO-I’s, there is little work that has focused on understanding the perceptions of technology used on a daily basis, including health logging applications, in particular aimed at persons aged 70+ years. Statistics indicate persons in this age group and above are the most frequent (ONS, 2013) yet, there is very little information and understanding of these cohorts. To the knowledge of the investigators, this work would be the first of its kind, encompassing persons aged 70+ years, recruited from five different nationalities, undertaking a mixed methods approach primarily relating to the utilisation of technology in one’s life.

Berry, R. (2011). Older people and the internet, Towards a ‘system map’ of digital exclusion. The International Longevity Centre – UK
Office for National Statistics (2013). Estimates of the Very Old (including Centenarians), 2002-2011, England and Wales. Statistical Bulletin. [Accessed July 2013]
Marston, H.R., & Smith, S.T., (2012). Interactive videogame technologies to support independence in the elderly: A narrative review – Games for Health Journal, 1(2): 139-152. doi:10.1089/g4h.2011.0008.
Lloyd, J. (2007). Retirement Capital and Online Social Networking. The International Longevity Centre – UK
Orlov, L.M. (2011). Technology Survey Age 65 to 100, Extending Technology Past the Boomers. Linkage
Roberts, S. (2009). The Fictions, Facts and Future of Older People and Technology. The International Longevity Centre – UK
Sinclair, D. (2010). Technology and Care. Can the web transform social care? The International Longevity Centre – UK
Zickuhr K., & Madden, M. (2012). Older adults and internet use. For the first time, half of adults ages 65 and older are online. Pew Research Center.

Project Updates & Dissemination
1. Genoe, M. R., Kulczycki, C., Marston, H., Freeman, S., Musselwhite, C., & Rutherford, H. (2018). E-leisure and older adults: Findings from an international exploratory study. Therapeutic Recreation Journal. Vol. LII, (1),

Journal Papers Under Review:
2. Marston, H.R., Genoe, R., Kulczycki, C., Musselwhite, C., & Freeman, S. Older Adults Perceptions of ICT: main findings from the Technology In Later Life (TILL) exploratory study.

Dr Marston was pleased to attend the Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS) at the Northern Irish Assembly, Belfast on the 14th March 2018. Dr Marston presented in the theme “Using Technology in Social Care” and was attended by members of the Assembly, academics, SMEs and third party stakeholders. Applications to the KESS are decided by Assembly Members and is aimed at promoting evidence-led policy and law making on issues relevant to the governance in Northern Ireland.

Conference Presentations/Symposiums:
1. Kulczycki, C., Genoe, R., Marston, H., Freeman, S., Musselwhite, C., & Rutherford, H. (2016). “If I want to know anything I just Google it”: Older adults’ functional and social leisure activities and technology. Accepted for presentation at the Canadian Congress on Leisure Research at the University of Waterloo (May 23-26, 2016), Canada.
2. Olynick, J., Freeman, S., Marston, H., Musselwhite, C., Kulczycki, C., & Genoe, R. (November 8th 2016). Intergenerational Influences on the Understanding and Use of Technology in Later Life. IDC Research Days 2016. Presentation available upon request.
3. Marston, H.R., Musselwhite, C., Freeman, S., Genoe, R., & Kulczycki, C. (2016). Technology In Later Life (TILL) Project, Preliminary Results. Symposium at the Annual British Society of Gerontology Conference, University of Stirling.

Related Partners

  • Dr. Hannah R. Marston (Lead), Research Fellow, School of Health, Wellbeing & Social Care, UK, Open University
  • Dr. Charles Musselwhite, Associate Professor, Centre for Innovative Ageing, Swansea University, UK
  • Dr. Rebecca Genoe, Associate Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies, University of Regina, Canada
  • Dr. Cory Kulczycki, Associate Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies, University of Regina, Canada
  • Dr. Shannon Freeman, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, Canada

Ethics Approval
This project has been granted ethical approval by The Open University Human Research Ethical Approval has been granted for all four sites:
Open University: HREC/2015/2028/Marston/1.
UNBC: E2015.0714.061.00
Swansea University: Granted. No # given. (document is available upon request)
University of Regina: REB#2015-113

Privacy & Informed Consent:
• As a recruited participant, you will be asked to read and complete a form giving your consent (twice); one copy for the project and one copy to take home to indicate your participation in the TILL project.
• As a participant in the TILL project, you can at any time, inform your contact or the principle investigator (Dr. Hannah Marston) that you wish to not take part in the study any more.
• There are no known risks to taking part in this research. As a participant in this study, you do not need to identify yourself and all information is/will be anonymised. But if you choose to provide any identifying information this data will be stored separately from your answers and identified only by a unique code number.

Data Collection, Privacy & Participants Information:
Initial data collection will be collected by a 3rd party program/server and can be accessed to be completed by the participant through a given link, once the participant has confirmed to take part in the project.

Once participants have completed the survey online, participants should delete their cookies/browser history to remove the IP address from displaying that they have accessed the survey.

If a participant does choose to provide contact details or personal information this data will be stored securely in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act 1988 and the relevant European Data Protection legislation.

Little or no risk is foreseen, focus groups will be held at the respective community centres and recruitment will take place primarily through mailing lists, and contacts which have been initialised during previous studies/networking events and working groups.

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