We all want to be connected in this technology-dependent world, no matter our age. The epidemic was one of the major factors that increased our dependence on technology.
Zoom and FaceTime have become the norm for people to shop online, go to doctor’s appointments, and work. It is a fact that not everyone has the technology or the skills necessary to navigate our online world. Older adults are the ones most affected by this.
This affected them in a way that magnified their pandemic, particularly when it comes to isolation. The main tool that keeps many of us in touch — technology — was taken away from older adults.
The pandemic is not just affecting older adults. Many older adults are either homeless or at risk of it. During the pandemic, older adults are at the highest risk of housing insecurity. Low socioeconomic status is one of the biggest barriers to housing.
Our technological dependency has created new challenges and solidified pre-existing ones for older adults. For example, navigating online platforms in order to secure housing. The lack of technology resources and training on how to use it is one of the main reasons older adults have difficulty finding housing.
Find housing in a world dependent on the Internet.
In general, older adults are excluded from the Internet, either because they do not have devices or connectivity or because they are untrained. When it comes to housing, older adults are often left behind.
It was once possible to browse through notice boards, newspapers, and Kijiji listings in order to find apartments. This is becoming less common. Platforms like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace aren’t designed with older adults and their needs in mind. This makes it more difficult to locate housing. They’re not only forced to navigate unfamiliar platforms but also have a tight budget.
Older adults may be more susceptible to scams, phishing emails, and fake advertisements.
Imagine that you do not know about housing websites. You may not know how to navigate through online ads. Or own a device that allows you to access the Internet. When it comes to housing, you’re at a severe disadvantage.
In North America, ” large parts of the rental housing markets have moved online… More renters in urbanized regions found their current home through a website like Craigslist rather than any other information channel.” This means that the majority of rental property is accessible via online platforms. The housing options for older adults are limited because they do not have access to the digital world.
Finding an apartment may seem impossible to an older adult who lacks digital literacy and technological skills.
How can we progress in this digital age when so many people are left behind? We should make technology more accessible so that the user can choose.
The freedom to choose how to use technology in the older adult’s life can bring independence and autonomy. When older adults are able to decide for themselves, they tend to have a higher quality of life, particularly in terms of social isolation.
Older adults may be more susceptible to scams and phishing, and they may find it difficult to recognize fake housing ads. Having support and education resources can encourage the adoption of an aware and cautious attitude on the Internet, promote the use of trusted websites, and avoid disclosing sensitive information like SIN or credit card numbers. It can help older adults feel more confident and comfortable online.
Technology can help older adults stay connected with their family and friends.
We are part of the Ageing in the Right Place Project, which examines the causes of homelessness among older adults to evaluate promising current practices, such as temporary housing for older adults at risk of experiencing homelessness.
In order to be successful, this project must keep in touch not only with those who are working towards a solution for people experiencing homelessness but also with the older people themselves. In our initial client interviews with those who live in temporary housing, it is often mentioned that technology can be invaluable when looking for stable housing.
Technology can enhance the quality of life.
We assume as a society that older adults do not want to use certain technologies, not because they are resistant but because the technologies currently available were not designed with them in mind. The inclusion of older adults in the technology world perpetuates their exclusion from social networks, digital information, and other technologies.
This leaves them with very limited opportunities to gain education and awareness. The few options for older adults to learn can be found at school or work, which is an environment that they no longer frequent.
The technology can enhance the quality of older adults’ lives by providing comfort, ease, and inclusion by making essentials like housing more accessible.
We need to make the most of the educational resources and outreach initiatives that are already in place. Let’s empower older people to become digital citizens.
As digital citizens, they will have greater opportunities to find housing and use tools to prevent homelessness. They will feel included and connected in today’s technologically-driven world.