Origins and consequences of technology acquirement by independent-living seniors: Towards an integrative model

S.T.M. Peek, K.G. Luijkx, H.J.M. Vrijhoef, M.N. Nieboer, S. Aarts, C.S. van der Voort, M.D. Rijnaard, E.J.M. Wouters

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Living independently can be challenging for seniors. Technologies are expected to help older adults age in place, yet little empirical research is available on how seniors develop a need for technologies, how they acquire these technologies, and how these subsequently affect their lives. Aging is complex, dynamic and personal. But how does this translate to seniors’ adoption and acceptance of technology? To better understand origins and consequences of technology acquirement by independent-living seniors, an explorative longitudinal qualitative field study was set up.
Home visits were made to 33 community-dwelling seniors living in the Netherlands, on three occasions (2012–2014). Semi-structured interviews were conducted on the timeline of acquirements, and people and factors involved in acquirements. Additionally, participants were interviewed on experiences in using technologies since acquirement. Thematic analysis was employed to analyze interview transcripts, using a realist approach to better understand the contexts, mechanisms and outcomes of technology acquirements.
Findings were accumulated in a new conceptual model: The Cycle of Technology Acquirement by Independent-Living Seniors (C-TAILS), which provides an integrative perspective on why and how technologies are acquired, and why these may or may not prove to be appropriate and effective, considering an independent-living senior’s needs and circumstances at a given point in time. We found that externally driven and purely desire-driven acquirements led to a higher risk of suboptimal use and low levels of need satisfaction.
Technology acquirement by independent-living seniors may be best characterized as a heterogeneous process with many different origins, pathways and consequences. Furthermore, technologies that are acquired in ways
that are not congruent with seniors’ personal needs and circumstances run a higher risk of proving to be ineffective or inappropriate. Yet, these needs and circumstances are subject to change, and the C-TAILS model can be employed to
better understand contexts and mechanisms that come into play.
Original languageEnglish
Article number189
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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