Developing technology to support the functional independence of older adults

Elizabeth D. Mynatt, Wendy A. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maintaining functional independence is a high priority for many older adults. Often, staying in their own homes is key to such independence. Computer technology has the potential to assist in this goal by supporting the everyday tasks of older individuals, as well as by aiding caregivers and family members. Our research in advanced computing technologies explores how computational capabilities can enhance day-to-day activities. The computer is not a tool to be picked up, used, and then set aside; it is a constant partner in daily activities. The challenge is to design interfaces that reflect and support ongoing activities of daily life but not be inappropriately intrusive. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the issues that must be considered to ensure success of these development efforts, including older adults' attitudes towards technology as well as their needs and capabilities. We present two illustrative example projects: one designed to meet daily awareness needs of adult children concerned about the well-being of a senior parent, and another that can provide surrogate memory aids for household tasks. These examples demonstrate the complexity of the issues involved in designing the computationally capable home of the future and provide direction for future research and development efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-41
Number of pages18
JournalAgeing International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)

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