LivingLab PJAIT: ICT for the elderly

The process of aging accelerates in European societies and becomes one of the greatest social and economic challenges. Specialists in the field of demographics predict that by 2050 over a quarter of EU population will be composed of people that are 65+. According to strategic documentation compiled by the Polish government, in 2011 one in five Poles and one in four Europeans was older than 60.

The LivingLab project is driven by the conviction that the elderly are our future. It is therefore of highest importance to learn how to include this demographic in various activities, facilitate their participation in modern technology-based world, and ultimately apply their strengths for the benefit of the society at large. Such an objective cannot be achieved without a solid knowledge about the psychological and sociological processes associated with aging, and possible ways of dealing with them.

The LivingLab is aimed at people aged 60+ and offers them an online platform composed of two main modules:

1.       E-learning portal that allows for participation in online courses tailored to the needs and skills of the 60+ demographic.

2.       The research module that utilizes crowdsourcing approach and allows the elderly to perform tasks that provide data useful for

The LivingLab team provides a variety of activities addressed to the elderly e.g. introductory meetings to the platform and consultation. Those activities are connected with research objective mentioned above. One of our recent endeavors was focused on the problem social inclusion of the elderly and the problem of education of the elderly in the field of mobile technologies. We decided to try tackling these problems by organizing a location based game ‘A stroll around yesterday’ which combined historical knowledge with the use of tablets and interaction in mixed-age teams of two (a senior and an IT student). This form of activity also facilitated the IT students’ understanding of the requirements that should be taken into account in the process of creating applications for senior citizens. 

Social Participation for improving emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing in independently living older adults

 The combination of longer life expectancy, evolving socio-economical norms and conditions, and new technologies are dramatically changing life after retirement, and not always for the better. In more and more countries, pensioners find themselves with many years in front of them, some of them likely characterized by reduced physical and cognitive abilities. For older adults, this span of time out of the workforce was traditionally devoted to the role (and source of great joy) of caring for grandchildren. However, this role is fading out because of increased mobility of children, which often live far away for work, love, or other reasons, leading to an increase of loneliness and social isolation. This project aims at rethinking long life and understanding the socio-economical context that can make this period of life more exiting and attractive.

 The specific angle we take is that of enabling older adults of all ages - and specifically including adults who cannot leave their home or that have reduced cognitive abilities - to learn, grow, interact, and contribute to society through ICT. In other words, we aim at enabling adults to be contributors to societal wellbeing. We generically refer to this group of abilities as life participation abilities, and we focus on these aspects because studies tell us that the ability of interacting and feeling useful and helpful to others is essential to a person’s wellbeing, sometimes more so than health.

 The multi- and inter-disciplinary nature of the project provides the perfect environment for collaboration and knowledge transfer. As such, it requires the expertise and perspective that only the consortium as a whole can provide. The synergies that we build in the project will help not only in the materialization of the solutions starting from the original problems, challenges and requirements, but they will also foster the growth of research and innovation skills of the researchers and institutions involved in the project.

 The project is funded within the RISE framework as a part of the Horizon 2020. PJIIT is one of eight partners next to i.e.: Universita Degli Studi di Trento (Italy), Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale in Medrisio (Switzerland) and University of New South Wales (Australia).