| 24.02.2021

Older people living alone, digital skills and care – Hanken takes part in a large EU-project

digitala färdigheter
There are differences among countries in Europe in how the care work is organized. Care work has traditionally often been regarded as an internal question for families in many countries in Europe.

“Due to demographic and technological changes as well as changes in family structures, it is important to do research on the situation of older people living alone – a situation that is new for many”, says Dr Charlotta Niemistö, principal investigator at Hanken in the new project Alone but connected? Digital (in)equalities in care work and generational relationships among older people living alone.

The project is a part of a EU’s research program on demographic change. The whole consortium is led by Dr Miranda Leontowitsch and Professor Frank Oswald at the Goethe University in Frankfurt.

In the project, material will be gathered through discussions with 60+ people in different EU-countries.

“Inequalities in digital skills and how this is related to health care is one major question in the project. At the moment it is for instance central to ask what consequences a lack of digital skills among older people has for getting the corona vaccine”, Niemistö says.

Professor Emeritus Jeff Hearn from Hanken also takes part in project. He has decades of experience of working with questions of age in the intersection gender and ethnicity, among other social divisions.

 “It is important to pay attention to the different situations in which older people live. Many who are retired do part-time work, sometimes for different organizations, and do voluntary work, as well as take care of grandchildren, partners, friends and so on”.

According to Hearn and Niemistö, questions of age and generation should be included in the policies of all organizations.

The research financing landscape in Europe has lately been going through rapid changes and research is to an increasing extent expected to assist in giving answers to societal problems. Related to this, researchers are also to a growing extent expected to inform about their research results to a larger public audience.

“This is in order to provide the research results to those who might need them, for example, decision-makers in EU”, Niemistö says.


 Charlotta Niemistö, charlotta.niemisto@hanken.fi

Jeff Hearn, jeff.hearn@hanken.fi


More about Hearn’s and Niemistö’s research in recent book Age at Work: Ambiguous Boundaries of Organizations, Organizing and Ageing, authored with Wendy Parkin (UK) and Richard Howson (Australia).