You might be wondering to yourself, “What exactly is digital aging?”
I think of it this way: everything we do these days has a digital component, whether it’s communicating with friends and family or managing our finances and purchases. Whether you want to plan a trip, buy a movie ticket or look up the side effects of a new medication, more and more of us depend on electronic solutions. Why should aging be any different?
“Digital aging” is one of the initiatives most important to me as dean of the USC Davis School of Gerontology. It’s so important to me that we are in the process right now of establishing our own Center of Digital Aging. Our goal is to harness the power of social media and cutting-edge technology to help not just older adults and caregivers but also businesses and services.
We started this journey by holding a competition among our students to create a new smartphone “app” to serve this community and are reaching out now to other USC Schools (including engineering, policy and graphic design) to help turn these into reality. The purpose of our Center of Digital Aging will be to empower older adults to use technology while also creating new innovations while raising awareness of this crucial yet all-too-often-ignored audience.
Of course, with any exciting new venture, we must be aware of the risks as well as the rewards, and it is important for older adults to be informed of ways they can increase their online and technological safety, especially if they are suffering from cognitive impairment or an unfamiliarity with the products and services. As always, education and awareness are the key to empowerment, and we are proud to be leading the charge of harnessing the power of the digital revolution to the benefit of the aging revolution.
– Pinchas Cohen, M.D.
Dean, USC Davis School of Gerontology