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Why the smartphone is a powerful tool in pursuit of seniors’ wellness


Aged care providers striving for a wellness approach should think about incorporating experience-type services and harnessing the power of the smartphone to deliver them, an expert will tell an upcoming conference.

Experiences matter much more to people as they age than material things do and the addition of the smartphone – a personal computer in your pocket – brought a powerful element to the concept, said Dr Jeffrey Brand, a professor of communication and creative media at Bond University.

Jeff Brand

Dr Jeffrey Brand

Dr Brand is participating in a panel at the Active Ageing Conference later this month and will discuss how to enhance seniors’ physical and emotional wellbeing through a range of pursuits from everyday leisure activities to video game apps.

If allowed, innovations like the internet-enabled mobile device provided an exceptionally powerful tool, Dr Brand told Australian Ageing Agenda.

He said service providers should take advantage of this advanced type of personal computing to deliver the experiences older people were looking for.

Reframing ageing

Dr Brand will also share ideas from a project he is working on with Aged Care Financing Authority chair Lynda O’Grady that aims to reframe ageing as a premium period in life.

He said one of those premiums was the ability for people to explore things they were previously unable to do.

Dr Brand said the project was looking at how older adults were using personal computing technologies, particularly internet-enabled mobile phones, to determine how they are using them to:

  • improve their body, mind, and health practices;
  • maintain their relationships;
  • find a new motivation and purpose; and
  • enhance pleasure through everything from play to adventures and just general entertainment.

positive ageing video2In addition to entertainment, playing video games is increasingly one of the ways seniors are using their mobile phones to improve their health and wellbeing.

This finding was highlighted in the Digital Australia Report 2016 (DA16), a report on state of the nation’s video gaming activity commissioned by industry peak body Interactive Games and Entertainment Association.

“The number one reason older people say they play video games is to keep their mind active,” said Dr Brand, who authored the report.

Since that report was published in July, Dr Brand has investigated the senior cohort further to understand more about their playing habits.

Among those findings is that after the age of 65, women are playing more than men. The amount of time older people and particularly women are spending playing in-depth games also goes up with age, he said.

“Between the ages of 65 and 85, time goes up from about 50 minutes to about 70 minutes a day of in-depth play. That is separate from the 20 or so minutes spent in casual play,” Dr Brand said.

Video games were a tool that service providers should consider to address clients’ needs, however, any approach to technology should be a person-centred and active one, Dr Brand said.

“We start often time from the tool and we need to start from the goal. We all have different drivers, different motivations and we offer different accomplishments and experiences.”

The Active Ageing Conference 2015 takes place on 29 October at the Amora Hotel, Sydney. Visit the conference website to access the full program and register



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