The Seminar forms part of a wider eAgeing programme of initiatives led by the MCA, which are being organised as part of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY 2012) activities.
Ing Philip Micallef, Executive Chairman of MCA expressed his satisfaction at the interest and diversity of the participants present and argued that “this has become a complex topic that cannot be fully understood through the lens of one discipline” He added that “it is imperative that we listen and learn from each other and seek to synergise our efforts in order to be able to present cohesive and effective efforts in getting our older generations using ICTs”.
Statistics issued by Eurostat indicate that 67% of Maltese aged 55 and over have never used the Internet. This considerably large segment of society is excluded from taking part in any online activity that could offer considerable benefits in relation to health and wellbeing, overcoming mobility limitation and social isolation, increased reach to public authorities, as well as accessing information and entertainment. In an environment that relies heavily on ICTs, being excluded from the digital world can only isolate one further from the activity of the community with consequence of increasing one’s vulnerability.
Dr Charmaine Gauci, Chairperson of the National Committee for the EY2012, welcomed the interest of the MCA and the ICT industry and stated “that policy and initiatives targeting the ageing should not be limited to healthcare and social welfare, but should seek at keeping these people holistically relevant to our society.” “ICT opens unprecedented opportunities for everyone to remain active within the community whilst also leading a richer lifestyle,” she added.
The first session titled ‘Bridging the divide, bridging generations’ was chaired by Dr. Gauci and the panel included Dr. Marvin Formosa, Senior Lecturer, European Centre for Gerontology, University of Malta, who outlined the learning difficulties enountered by older people when attempting to master new technologies; Mr Bernard Agius, Senior Manager Information Society at the MCA, presented statisitics and trends on the current divide in ICT use between the generation extremes; and James Carabott, National Coordinator EY2012, who gave an account of how ICT can bring tangible benefits to people in the fourth age.
The second session titled ‘Wellbeing in later life’ waschaired by Ms. Celia Falzon, Chief of External Relations at the MCA. The panel included Dr. Hugo Agius Muscat, the National eHealth Coordinator, who discussed aspects of the national eHealth strategy; Mr. Ivan Bartolo, Chief Executive Officer of 6pm, who shared the experinces of an ICT compny working on the Emcare project; and Ms. Rosette Farrugia Bonello, Programme Manager,International Institute on Ageing,United Nations-Malta (INIA), Executive Director, European Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (EAHSA) who talked about assistive technologies for people suffering from dementia.
Marie Demicoli, national ambassador for Active Ageing, gave a first person account of how ICT can bring tangible benefit to an ageing, but active person.
Organised in collaboration with the National Committee for the EY2012, the event attracted participants from diverse backgrounds including individuals from the health care sector, social welfare, education, ICT industry and Government.
As part of its eAgeing initiaitves, the MCA plans to rollout a roadshow that will be visiting various localities around Malta and Gozo during the Christmas shopping period. It will also be rolling out a specialised training programme for individuals working with older people who are willing to help them learn to use ICTs.
Further information on these initiatives can be obtained by contacting the Authority on firstname.lastname@example.org