Though computers and the Internet offer an opportunity to enhance the lives of older adults, rates of computer use among older adults are low relative to other age groups. This study examined patterns of computer use and barriers to use among 324 residents living in a suburban naturally occurring retirement community (NORC). One-third (36%) of the residents were actively using computers. Residents currently using computers were more likely to be younger, with more education, fewer functional impairments, and greater social resources. Results from a multidimensional scaling analysis suggested that common uses fell along two dimensions: a solitary-social dimension and an obligatory-discretionary dimension. Barriers to more frequent use included cost, complexity, ergonomic impediments, and a lack of interest. Results from this study could inform the development of services by taking into account how older adults prefer to use computers and their perceptions of the technology. We include practical recommendations for program developers.
- Program development