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Online services could alienate elderly

Online services could alienate elderly
8th January 2016

Transferring to online services could alienate older people who don't have the skills to use new technologies and risk leaving them without the support they desperately need.

This is according to a new report published by Age UK and it warns that more needs to be done to engage with the "offline" community.

According to the figures published in its ‘Later life in a digital world’ study, the poorest pensioners are the most likely to not have access to online services. It found that around four in five people over the age of 75, who are also in the lowest socio-economic groups, do not currently use the internet.

In contrast, those in the same demographic who were in the highest group were around twice as likely to be able to get online.

Unsurprisingly, there was a huge difference between younger and older people, the report found. Nearly all young adults (99 per cent) had used the internet recently, but less than three-quarters (71 per cent) of people between the ages of 65 and 74 had. This further fell as people became elderly, with just a third of those aged 75 and over having recently gone online.

The report found that this inability to be online was having a very real impact on the lives of older people, with many feeling reluctant to claim support.

It is estimated that each year £3.7 billion of pension credit and housing benefit is missed because people don't know they are entitled to it or don't want to claim it out of pride or embarrassment.

People are often encouraged to go online to claim housing benefit but most still prefer to use the phone to get their pension credit. The report warns that this pressure could act as a further barrier to gaining support.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Digital technology is transforming our lives and for growing numbers of older people it’s a boon.

"We want to increase the numbers of older people benefiting from digital technology, while ensuring that those who are not online do not miss out on, or find it harder to access, essential goods and services."

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