Educating the Elderly

Published on Author barryp17

In an increasingly technological world, the elderly are often left by the way-side.  Young people can all recount a comical tale of an older relative or teacher struggling to navigate that which is second nature to the young folks of today.  As we have studied in this term, elderly people in rural China rely completely on their children and grandchildren for their income to survive.  These rural villages do not have the same access to technological advancements and find themselves acquiring older technology.  For the elderly, who have never experienced much of this, technology is foreign.

In an effort to provide these people with at least a basic understanding of technology and some computer literacy, the World Bank along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has begun introducing computers into these people’s lives.  They have taken advantage of the public libraries and library-like institutions around China to introduce this plan.  With China hosting almost a quarter of the entire world’s population of people over the age of 60, this effort could be monumental in improving the well-being of these people nearing the ends of their lives.  In addition this movement allows these people to further their knowledge and provides a means of instant communication amongst family members, who have left the village.  Free and public access for everyone to these computers and literacy programs further fosters the idea of community.  As these programs are just beginning, we will have to wait to see their impact, but these efforts demonstrate the trend of incorporating rural Chinese people into a more modern society.

Technology-enabled Public Libraries Can Help Improve the Quality of Life of the Rural Elderly. (2014, September 14). Retrieved April 1, 2015, from

8 Responses to Educating the Elderly

  1. Technology literacy could increase the independence of elderly Chinese. Online bank transfers would simplify remittances and e-commerce would allow the “less-mobile” to shop for goods and services at home, reducing the need for assistance. This has large implications in a society where adult children are culturally obligated to care for old-age parents.

  2. In addition, the burden of young people who have migrated to the city could be lessened. As Burke’s post above indicates, young people are expected to take care of elderly family members. When they are a good distance away in the village, this could be exceptionally difficult. Technology access could help with this burden.

  3. Before I even read Burke and Blake’s comments, the first benefit of increased tech literacy among the elderly would allow their beneficiaries to remain in cities for longer. As plenty of college students experience (especially here), funds can be acquired by online banking transfer features. Opening up a gateway to the Internet, however, cannot replace a visit home in person.

  4. I thought about the over-reliance on technology of the grown-up children as an excuse to not come back to visit their old parents, too. But overall educating the elderly on modern technology definitely helps. I can draw from my own experience of skyping with my grandparents back at home even we’re 11 hours apart.

    • I’ll visit my mom over break, but skype / phone her regularly. And play “words” on facebook. She spends a lot of time on her iPad. So overall this seems good, but cell phones may be the route, not “standard” computers.

  5. I have a little doubt over the feasibility of this project though. I’m not sure how receptive the elderly would be toward all these completely new and (kinda) complicated technology, especially when they reside in rural areas and may not receive much education.

  6. Furthermore, technology has the potential to offer so much in terms of elderly care. The ability to take advantage of these benefits starts with teaching them basic tech skills.

  7. The elderly take well to computers, particular ones like the iPad that are easier to handle. Lots of evidence in this community….no reason to think China won’t be different, and systems can even compensate for weak literacy.