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How lockdown has accelerated the digital age for the elderly

How lockdown has accelerated the digital age for the elderly

The lasting impact that lockdown has had for the elderly and using digital technologies.

19th August 2020

Read time
2 minutes

It is hardly a surprise that an unprecedented global lockdown will have lasting effects on our society. Many of these effects will not be fully appreciated for many years: Will we see a baby boom? The collapse of budget airlines? Restaurants that are permanently running at half capacity? These questions remain to be answered.

Concerns for the elderly

One clear, undeniable shift has been the acceleration of pre-existing trends in the technology space. It has been said for many years now that companies and individuals must adapt to the increasingly digital spirit of the times. Nearly every business has an website or a social media page, and the rise of online influencers is a testament to the vital role that social media has in our consumption patterns.


The constant response to this shift has been a reasonable concern for the digitally illiterate segment of the population. Not every person owns a smartphone. Some people, in particular, the elderly, prefer to visit their bank branch in person, rather than conducting their transaction via a digital banking app. Prior to coronavirus, this cohort was able to coexist with the more online-inclined cohort. When lockdown occurred, however, we were all essentially forced to adapt to a virtual existence.


A lack of digital proficiency

As of 2019, 47% of UK residents age 75 and above had never used the internet. A large part of this lack of digital proficiency can be attributed to the lack of need. If the economy is open and transport is reasonably accessible, then there is no urgent reason to adapt to technology. The elderly, who grew up without internet, have never been required to embrace the digital age. The COVID-19 lockdown provided the impetus, which some will say was needed, to encourage their online education.


Adaptation is possible

Over 65s are now shopping online twice as much as they did in 2019. Similarly, record numbers of elderly citizens have signed up for digital banking. Although the learning curve might be somewhat steep, in some cases, it appears that all the elderly needed was a push towards technology. When the internet became the only option, adapting was the most logical thing to do.


As lockdowns ease, we will need to wait and see if this shift is permanent or temporary.


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