ICTs and their usefulness in the ageing process

Las TIC y su utilidad en el proceso de envejecimiento - Innovación, Sociedad

Access to the use of ICT has a strong ethical foundation based on social responsibility, mainly with the long-lived community. The adaptation of the elderly in the use of ICT increases the participatory possibility, builds support networks and reduces the so-called "digital gaps".

In the global information society, advertising tells us, nobody should be left out, everyone has the opportunity to know and communicate. But information and communication technologies (ICT) go beyond simple communicability processes: they are transforming all areas of human activity.

Today more than ever, individuals can be closer to each other in a distant time and place. The telephone communication, for example, in the blink of an eye can solve the incommunicability between people and can strengthen ties of affectivity forgotten in time or buried by distance.

This does not imply supposing that new forms and social processes arise as a consequence of technological change. Technology does not determine society. Nor does society dictate the course of technological change, since many factors, including invention and personal initiatives, intervene in the process of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and social applications, in such a way that the final result depends on a complex model of interaction.


ICTs have their own historicity and a specific geopolitical and cultural explanation. These are born as a new paradigm in the 1970s in California, United States. His birth obeyed strictly technical-military interests. They had as an initial function the cybernetic, telephone and later satellite espionage.

Its objectives were the fight against the ideological enemies of the United States, to plant artificial wars (happened in Africa and in Latin America during the 70s and 80s of the last century) to overthrow democratic governments, foster dictatorships and transfer large sums of money from a country to another country to also carry out financial wars.

"Computer science" arises from this historical process. They were also able to insert themselves into global economic and geopolitical processes. Little by little, ICT, computer tools, and the electronics industry began to change the physiognomy of societies and the ways of organizing institutions. Thus, new ways of communication, management, and administration emerge that were soon incubated in educational platforms and in the empowerment of business language at all levels and in any country.

The large industrial corporations (IBM, General Electric, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, Siemens, Microsoft) not only visualized in the beginning the production of artifacts for war and espionage, but also ventured into the field of household appliances, in the telecommunications and aeronautics.

In the majority of electronic, digital, and telecommunication products, and in almost all commercial, labor, business, scientific and daily activities, the technologies and tools of communication and information have laid their foundations in an indisputable manner. Especially now in the areas of health and nanotechnology, their incursion has been substantive.


It should be clear that ICTs are not the panacea or the absolute goal of any society, but only represent the means to aspire to more humanized forms in the intersubjective relationship (from the use of tools and the use of technological goods).

One of the important aspects of technological systems is in terms of their application in the health sciences. Biotechnology and computer science, for example, constitute links that allow medical diagnoses, surgical interventions, systematized records (patient's medical records, statistical reports, reliable databases) and applied therapies to contribute to accurate data and greater control of the patient's health/disease process.

There is an interesting study carried out in Germany entitled "Alter und Technik: Studie zu Technikkonzepten, Techniknutzung und Technikbewertung älterer Menschen" (whose translation into English is Ageing and technique: a study of technical concepts, technical uses, and evaluation of technologies in the elderly). It states that in terms of ageing, innovation means developing with creativity and social responsibility technologies at the service of the long-lived community.

The objectives of this research are to encourage mobility and functionality, increase autonomy, promote activity through the recognition of roles, improve self-esteem and maximize adaptive capabilities. The adaptive potential in human biology is endogenous and exogenous. The adaptation of the elderly in the use of ICTs increases the participatory possibility, builds support networks and reduces so-called "digital gaps”.

The application of ICT is not only extremely useful in research of clinical nature, but is fundamental in the activities of daily life. Information technologies reintroduce the user into the world, make them part of being with others in dialogue and interaction, stimulate recognition and update affective relationships. Being inserted in the world of communication and reciprocity, using the Internet, for example, is a way of living a certain comfort (Research Agenda on Ageing for the 21st Century).


Also, the technologies are oriented to recreate the ludic life. Virtual games can be structured from therapeutic ends to cover. There may be games that help counteract anxiety and depression from control games with color combinations and noisy sounds. It is also possible to design games inserted in mobile telephony ergonomically adapted to the anatomical and mobility needs that contribute to reinforcing cognitive and sensitive processes.

There are infinite technological designs that can be made which exist in the medical instruments market: tights with sensors to control the joint pressure of the extremities, electromagnets or chips articulated with each other to form a network or "cap" that stimulate some neurotransmitters and thus combat headaches or monitor depressive states, canes and bracelets that help control vital signs, among others.


In terms of urban mobility, computer science is basic to work hand in hand with automotive engineering, for example. In the XXI century, most of the public transport is precarious. Many of the musculoskeletal injuries suffered when people board a public transport, is due to the bad designs and the non-functionality of the unit from the moment of boarding to stay inside and in the descent. People with motor disabilities or osteoarticular diseases are the ones who bear the brunt, and those who are most injured (if they dare to "get on" the unit).

Nowadays, ICTs still do not design instruments or tools that serve to evacuate or prevent natural disasters (such as earthquakes), especially when dealing with elderly people with physical disabilities or who are dependent.

ICTs also have a very serious cultural challenge to face, which must be addressed with multidisciplinary research: the digital gap between long-lived rural communities and urban communities. This gap can represent obstacles to interaction when confronting lifestyles based on traditions with those based on certain aspects of technological modernity.

In the recent earthquakes of September 2017 in the towns that make up the regions of Oaxaca and Chiapas, the main victims were the elderly. It was not known what family members or friends should do with them. The development of manuals on disaster prevention for the elderly does not exist, nor are there technological or mass information mechanisms in this regard.

In the information society, education about the access and use of ICTs is no longer a thing for politicians and ministers of war as it was in the past, nor for engineers, technologists or computer amateurs that many times use digital tools to lacerate the lives of others (social networks, for example) or to self-destruct in solitude.

ICTs have a strong ethical foundation based on social responsibility. To ignore it is to contribute to the exclusion and oblivion of fraternity and human solidarity.

I want to acknowledge the excellent work, from my perspective, that some researchers from the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada (Cicese) have been developing in the area of Computer Science, where some topics of computational science are being worked on, and its application and resolution of social and health problems related to the elderly (http://bit.ly/2wTtPaN). In the immediate future, I hope that the Cicese is our highest national scientific and technological institution, at par with the European and Asian world powers. Multidisciplinary research is a guiding axis for this task.

* Advisor for graduate programs in the sciences of ageing and researcher at the Competence Centre for Ageing of the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Source: http://www.elvigia.net/