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Happy and independent at home

(March 2009) Paula van der Zande is an 88-year-old widow who lives happily and independently in the Hof van Strijp complex in Eindhoven. She spoke to Netcarity News about ageing, optimism and technology.

What does daily life consist of for you?

I live a very active and busy life. I take care of my son, who has a muscle wasting disease, and I read newspapers and books. My dog is getting old now and I keep mobile by taking him out for regular exercise.

How have you been involved with Netcarity?

I was involved at the very beginning when I was interviewed and I joined different focus groups. I have been consulted about how technology could help me to continue to live independently. My apartment is the test apartment for Netcarity.

Why did you get involved?

The development of technology to support us older people is very important. It is important to test technology properly before installing it and I want to play a role in that.

What do you think technology can do for older people?

Technology is important not just for delivering care, but also to help older people to live independently for as long as possible. I think it has a very important role to play in helping us to seek support when we experience problems.

What is your advice for developers of technology for older people?

I think it is important to consider all the solutions to problems first, and then to look at how the technology fits into the solution. It is not the solution on its own. It is very important to do good research first and to involve older people by asking what their needs and desires are.

How do you think older people adjust to new technologies?

It is hard to learn new technology. I have a new DVD and mobile phone but it’s not easy to learn how they work. Five years ago I learnt to use a computer but I’m now too busy to bother with it.

What is philosophy for a long and happy life?

Stay optimistic and find solutions to your own problems. And stay independent for as long as possible.