Is Technology Leaving Our Elderly Behind?

While digitisation technology has failed to reduce an elderly person’s reliance on cash, it has made them more dependent on the youth within their families.

Adeesh Sharma
New Update
machine learning

How many times have we seen our seniors fiddling with the gadgets that surround them at home but eventually giving up in frustration? Countless. We have drowned our lives or shall I put it the other way round, and say technology has subsumed us completely, read the younger generation, leaving the elders to their fate.


I shall begin with mobile phones. For decades, people of all ages were happy using the landlines, which were designed without any gender bias, large digits and dials, simple technology that required no training; so anyone could use them at leisure or in times of dire need. Cut to the year 2000 and the focus shifted towards mobile (feature) phones. Most people took fancy to the new technology and in their quest for saving costs, even got their landlines disconnected. The transition was tough for the elderly. However, the bigger size of mobiles at that point in time was still convenient. Unfortunately for them, the size of feature phones took a hit for marketing convenience. Again our seniors did well to adapt. But fast forward to 2010s and that’s where, with smartphones and mobile internet taking centerstage, the elderly got a rude jolt. The blazing speed of operation and the intelligence associated with smartphones means that those with reducing cognitive ability find it extremely difficult to keep pace.

Next, take the case of televisions. In the past, a click on the power button made you good to go. Channel selection meant simply pushing the up and down arrow buttons on the remote. Ditto for sound. Unfortunately, our government decided to tap the ‘revenue mine’ in the television industry and in walked the conditional access system or CAS. The TV got an additional companion in a set top box and with it all the added complexity and intelligence. So bye-bye to the elderly once more.

Now I come to our favourite topic of discussion these days. Demonetisation and digital payments. Our digital savvy government feels it’s just a matter of time before everybody in the population from young to the elderly shall take to digital means and their reliance on cash shall be a thing of the past. While digitisation is not bad spare a thought for the senior citizens again. While it has failed to reduce their reliance on cash, what it has surely done is to make them more dependent on the whimsical youth within their families, thus putting their privacy and even security at risk.