Globally, older people have tended to be relatively slow adopters of ICTs. As services and facilities are increasingly delivered online, concerns about the implications for social inclusion and participation have spawned many initiatives aimed at encouraging older peoples’ digital engagement. However little attention has been paid to whether and how their usage can be sustained over time. This chapter describes the research undertaken in the Sus-IT project, which sought to address this gap. The aims were to examine older people’s use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), to identify the factors which can prevent or promote sustained use, and to explore solutions to support sustained use. A participatory, mixed methods approach was adopted, and around 1000 older ICT users were involved in the research. The findings show that while many older people are enthusiastic, competent and confident users of ICTs, they also report a range of challenges in reaching and maintaining this position. These include technological complexity and change, age-related capability changes and a lack of appropriate learning and support mechanisms. Intrinsic motivation and social support are important in enabling older people to overcome these challenges. The important implications of the findings for policy and practice are discussed.
This chapter presents a comprehensive introduction to the major gerontological topic of participation and social connectivity based on eleven separate NDA projects. Looking at Brazil, India, and South Africa, the chapter begins with a summary of the critical importance of participation to health and well-being in later life. It challenges negative stereotypes of ageing and older people, such as declining participation. It shows that older people do participate and are often tenacious in this but they are often confronted with multiple barriers that prevent them from doing so. The chapter concludes by citing examples on how to improve meaningful participation in later life, which ranges from community arts to literature.