The purpose of the research project is Exploring and describing some ways to use ICT to facilitate cognitive activity and social engagement among Costa Rican healthy older people.
The fastest growing of older people group poses demands for products and services to facilitate their adaptation to the old age and improve their quality of life, moving on from care to preventive interventions. In this sense, active / healthy aging models propose that it is possible aging with conditions to be functional, independent, and autonomous and have quality of life in the old age. Active/healthy aging can be defined as an adjusting process over the lifespan for maintaining optimal physical (including health) and psychological (motor, cognition and emotion -motivation) functioning, as well as high levels of social participation (Fernández-Ballesteros, Molina, Schettini & Del Rey, 2012; WHO, 2002 and Rowe & Khan, 1997).
From the different multifactorial models of active aging, healthy aging (Baltes & Baltes 1993; WHO, 2002) and successful aging (Rowe y Khan, 1997) high cognitive performance and engagement with life are important determinants of quality of life, independence and autonomy.
In this context, technology can play key roles in work, leisure and health care provision. One of the roles is prevention in age-associated impairments which is for example using technology to prevent accidents in the work and permitting to get the old age in good health. The second role is augmentation it might come in the form of a computer game designed to train failing cognitive abilities. Finally, there is the substitution, for example for those with mobility impairments online banking can substitute for a physical visit (Charness & Boot, 2009).
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have an important potential for developing learning opportunities for older people, in both senses as a topic by itself, but also as means of learning in the knowledge society. ICT can provide more social learning and new opportunities to access information and services (Ala-Mutka, Malanowsky, Punie, & Cabrera, 2008).Older adults would benefit from the ICT-based learning in a number of ways, these can include: the promotion of social inclusion by forming friendships, have access to products and services, gain access to information and social participation in knowledge societies; learning for pleasure and fulfilment, as well as some specific cognitive training.
In this regard, education is one of the most important factors since schooling and lifelong education influence health and all behavioural repertoires across the lifespan (Baltes & Baltes, 1993; Fernández-Ballestero 1998; Rowe & Kahn, 1997). The research on learning potential and cognitive plasticity supports the modifiability of cognitive decline through cognitive training and/or stimulating environments (Fernández-Ballesteros, 2008, Fernández-Ballesteros, Molina, Schettini, & Del Rey, 2012; Schaie, 2005a, 2005b; Willis et al., 2006).