Connect Chicago: Seniors and Technology

At the Connect Chicago meetup on February 21st, we covered issues around seniors and technology.

Brad Winick of Planning/Aging, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and AgeOptions  talked about how we got to this point and the social impacts an aging population will have on technology. Here’s Brad Winick introducing his talk below the fold:

Winick also went through how we got to this point.  Part of the reason is a series of policies that have encouraged the present situation including the National Housing Act, VA backed loans under the Montgomery GI Bill, and the Interstate Highway System.  The result has the proliferation of auto-dependent single family home suburbs.


Winick also describes the paradigm shifts that the combination of technology and an aging population will have on our society. One of those shifts is the fact that the number of Americans over the age of 65 will jump to one in five by 2030. In 2010, that number was one in eight.


At the same time, the rapid development of technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics, and the internet of things will have a major impact on daily life. Additionally, we’re also seeing shifts in the areas of transportation, housing and healthcare that are leading us away from the single family suburban model.

This leads Winick to ask three big questions:

  1. Where will our senior population live?
  2. How will they get around?
  3. What will be the nature of the communities in which all of these older people live?

These questions lead up to a very large fourth question: What role might advanced technology play in meeting these objectives?

That led us to a talk by Greg Sutton of TEC Services Consulting Inc.  Here’s Sutton giving an introduction to his talk which went over the work that TEC does with seniors and the barriers to connectivity that seniors face.



Sutton also talked about the demographics of the senior populations it comes to getting online. This information comes from a Pew Research project on older adults and the Internet.


Sutton also talked about the barriers facing seniors trying to get online.


One of the biggest barriers is information overload. Savvy internet users have learned to distinguish between what’s true on the Internet and what is not. Between Facebook, email spam, and banner ads, the web is full of misleading or outright false information.

Sutton also discussed the social impact that the internet has had on the senior population.

You can find out more information about our next Connect Chicago Meetup here.