Adapting Social Supports through Communication Technologies as a Lifelong Learning for Older Adults


Muhamad Faisal Ashaari
Nurul Aini Syazwani Norhisham
Ponnusamy Subramaniam
Jamiah Manap
Hasanah Abd Khafidz
Rosmawati Mohamad Rasit

This qualitative study using thematic analysis, aimed to explore the role of communication technologies in providing social support and facilitating lifelong learning among older adults. Amidst the advancement and widespread use of communication technology, social support can be amplified through these technologies. Although older adults need the support of these technologies, they cannot rely on others because using them must be done with their own skills. They must pursue lifelong learning to adapt to all these related technologies and update their skills in line with recent technological developments. Thus, this article identifies the needs of older adults for social support through communication technologies. This study uses a qualitative method, and data were collected using Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and semi-structured interviews with 15 experts in related fields. Data are analyzed using Thematic Content Analyses (TCA) and grounded in the Technology Acceptance Theory (TAT) model. According to the study, communication technology can provide eight types of social support: four from social media and four from digital technologies. Support from social media can be gained from informational support, social interaction support, health care and emotional support, guidance support, and social media. While support from digital technologies can be gained from financial transaction support, health care and emotional support, health alert system support, virtual clinics, and online appointment systems. Combining both types of support can reduce the problem for older adults experiencing loneliness, depression, or suffering from physical or mental illnesses. The study provides insights into the factors that influence the use and effectiveness of communication technologies in providing social support and lifelong learning among older adults. The findings have theoretical and practical implications for interventions that improve social support and lifelong learning among older adults through communication technologies.


Keywords:Older adults, Social supports, Social media, Communication technologies, Lifelong learning, Digital technologies

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