Technology and Ageing | When personal, professional, and academic worlds converge

30th May 2020 |

It is always a great feeling when your work is recognised, so I am sharing a little bit about a recent connection that I made.

I started my service, Ageing Well Sorted, to help people plan for life’s many transitions in later life, and to provide practical, concrete benefits to their well-being as well as that of those closest to them. I hear a lot about people's experiences when seeking services, and aim to make it a less overwhelming and confusing exercise. My current university studies in Ageing, allows me to delve further into many aspects of an ageing person’s unique experiences, challenges, and opportunities.

This particular instance began when a list of personal monitoring devices was provided by an Aged Care nurse to a relative in hospital. I subsequently chose to analyse one product from that same list for a university project, via a socio-technical analysis.

My first surprise was that the list supplied in a public hospital in 2019 was last updated in 2014. In tech years a 5-year-old list may as well have been 50 years old. My second surprise was how difficult it was to find good comparative information, that took the needs, as well as what the device means to different consumers into consideration. A key issue here is that not all people are the same, however the products for older people seem to lump everyone into a one size fits all basket.

My analysis led me to a much better understanding of the nuances in choosing a product for people facing new challenges as they grow older. I recently offered to share my findings with the product provider that I reviewed, aiming ultimately to effect some change in better connecting the right product to the right people, an ongoing pursuit of mine.

The organisation was refreshingly open to a different perspective and perhaps they will view their products in a new light, particularly in terms of the sociological impact and meaning that different products have on different consumers. They even provided a reference to my paper in their latest newsletter distribution below.

“Stacey Tryon from Ageing Well Sorted recently studied the LifeGuard SmartMobile app and wrote a paper outlining its features in the context of ageing, technology and its primary purpose of care. Stacey evaluated the SmartMobile based both on its merits as an easy-to-use technology, as well as the additional capabilities it can connect to in the future as ageing needs change over time. She evaluated not only the application, but also the user experience and the ecosystem within which it operates.”

My research into related parties and the disconnect between them, in this instance - the product provider, health system and consumer will continue. As I build capability to help clients navigate a new life-stage, my strong belief is that we start the conversations early about future needs and preferably not in a crisis, such as a hospital admission. To normalise discussions about ageing puts the main characters, older people themselves, in the drivers seat with their options and does not rely on what is provided in the one size-fits-all basket. Choosing from a multitude of sometimes not so welcome products and services because of what it represents to both individuals and to the society we live in, is what we need to understand better and respond to if we are serious about person-centered care.

Technology and Ageing | When personal, professional, and academic worlds converge