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Ageing and the Artefacts for Living: Technology through the Life Course
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Health, Activity, Care. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Society, Diversity, Identity . Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2009 (English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

The article examines old people‟s interaction with everyday technology from a life course perspective. The purpose is to contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between changes in the physical environment and old people‟s doings.

The empirical base is interviews with 29 individuals, born between 1912 and 1940. In the analysis we introduce some concepts inspired by technology studies: technology landscape, technology room, standard package and defining objects.

The analysis is concentrated on three phases of the life course: living in the parental home, living as a married person with a family, and living as a senior-citizen. We explore how the participants lived, what technological objects their household possessed and used, and how new technology was appropriated. In the last phase we additionally investigate which technical objects have become of less importance and what expectations they have for future use of technology. The analysis shows that the participants‟ technology rooms were similar from the parental home period to the end of the family period. In the senior citizen period, differences in possession of defining objects can be found between persons -85 and 85+. At higher ages an „ageing turn‟ exists as age itself becomes the reason not to acquire new artefacts. Decisions on how the technology room should be used and valued are shaped by the individual‟s techno-biography, needs, capabilities and future life expectations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Old people, everyday life, technology, environmental gerontology, life course
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-17563OAI: diva2:210356
Available from: 2009-04-01 Created: 2009-04-01 Last updated: 2009-04-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Everyday life amongst the oldest old: descriptions of doings and possession and use of technology
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Everyday life amongst the oldest old: descriptions of doings and possession and use of technology
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The general aim of the present thesis is to expand knowledge about the everyday lives of the oldest old (85+) living independently and to improve and deepen the understanding of their doings and possession and use of technology. The everyday lives of the oldest old represent, in many aspects an under-researched area, partly because this age group is seldom included in national surveys regarding living conditions and time use.

This thesis comprises four papers. In paper I the extent and direction of research regarding elderly people is investigated through an examination of articles published in six well-reputed and well-established occupational therapy journals. Fifteen percent of the articles published between 2001 and 2006 included elderly people to some extent. Only five articles were about the oldest old. Most articles had a quantitative approach and concerned instrument development and testing. The findings show that articles concerning the oldest old are sparse, especially regarding their subjective experience. The following three papers are based on data derived from an empirical project based on interviews and observations with 18 oldest old individuals. Paper II explores how individuals over 85 years of age themselves describe and experience daily life. „Doing everyday life‟ is described through five overarching themes: „Experiencing being old‟, „Doings in everyday life‟, „Patterns of the day‟, „Altered doings‟ and „The importance of time‟. The daily doings are described as consisting of the usual things that have always been done, although how the doings are performed have changed. To do something is stressed as important for well-being, and a strong motivation to manage everyday doings on one‟s own is expressed. Paper III explores and describes the experiences and relations to technology in everyday doings of the oldest old as they themselves describe it. Four categories; „Perception of technology‟, „Technology holdings‟, „Handling technology‟ and „Compensatory technology in old age‟ emerged from the material. Technology needs to be integrated into the daily routines for it to be used. A modest and pragmatic attitude towards technology stands out, showing a discrepancy with public policy, which implies that technology will enhance independence and participation for elderly people. In paper IV, data from a younger group (-85) is included to describe, compare and discuss how elderly people belonging to different age cohorts (-85 and 85+) relate to their physical environment, primarily technological objects used in the home, and to examine how this is influenced by experiences and possession of technology over the life course. Possession and use of technological objects are similar for both groups over the life course from the parental home through the family time, although in the senior citizen time differences in technology possession and use appear. At higher ages the chronological age becomes a factor in deciding about upgrading or downsizing of the technology room; this is described as an „aging turn‟.

The conclusions drawn are that to continue and perform the everyday doings as one has always done is important in old age. At high ages downsizing of the technology rooms is an important issue and new technological objects need to be incorporated in everyday doings in order to be used and perceived as beneficial.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2009. 68 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1119
Odest old, ageing research, everyday technology, gerontechnology, environmental gerontology, everyday life, ADL, occupational therapy
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-17564 (URN)978-91-7393-648-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-04-29, K1, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Linköpings universitet, Norrköping, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-04-01 Created: 2009-04-01 Last updated: 2009-05-08Bibliographically approved

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