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Communication Across the Life Span

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Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

As we grow up and grow old, embrace new experiences, try new roles, and adopt new technologies, our senses of time, space, connection, and identity are fundamentally explored through communication. Why, how, with whom, and to what end humans communicate reflect and shape our ever-changing life span position. And while the «life span» can be conceived as a continuum, it is also one hinged by critical junctures and bound by cultural differences that can be better understood through communication.
The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the invited plenary speakers, top research papers, and ideas discussed in San Juan, explore the multiple ways communication affects, reflects, and directs our life transition. Capturing the richness and diversity of scholarship presented at the conference, chapters explore communication technologies that define a generation; communication and successful aging; stereotyping and family communication; sexual communication and physiological measurement; life span communication and the digital divide; and home-based care contexts across the world, among others.
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Chapter Seven: Older Adults’ Mediated Communication: Current Perspectives among Communication Scholars

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← 78 | 79 →CHAPTER SEVEN

Older Adults’ Mediated Communication

Current Perspectives among Communication Scholars

MARGOT J. VAN DER GOOT



Across the globe, the aging of the population is one of the greatest societal and economic challenges of the 21st century (e.g., European Commission, 2015; United Nations, 2015; World Health Organization, 2014). The demographic changes strongly impact social welfare and health care systems. Consequently, huge investments are made to keep older adults active, healthy, and independent for longer, often using ICT (information and communication technology) -based solutions. Effective (mediated) communication with older adults about new policies and ICT-based solutions is a key factor in turning these expenditures into secure investments and in actually impacting older adults’ well-being. Therefore, knowledge about older adults’ mediated communication should be available, disseminated, and implemented.

This chapter gives a brief summary of this knowledge, by providing an overview of the perspectives communication scholars currently employ when studying older adults’ mediated communication. Mediated communication is defined as technologically mediated interaction, which can be one-to-many communication (for example television broadcasts and internet-based interventions), many-to-many communication (for instance online social networks), and one-to-one communication (such as interactions between physicians and patients through internet-based interventions; Jensen & Helles, 2011). This chapter summarizes current notions about generational and life span impact on mediated communication, as well as recent empirical findings on (1) older adults’ media use, and (2) older adults’ responses to content and form features in mediated communication.

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