Lunenburg County Seniors and IT Usage

The senior market offers a great opportunity for IT support.  The use of IT by seniors is rapidly increasing, and they comprise one of the fastest-growing segments of society, both domestically and internationally.  This is especially true in the province of Nova Scotia.  “Projections show that seniors would account for between 23% and 25% of the total population by 2036, nearly double the 13.9% in 2009.”  (Statistics Canada – Population projections: Canada, the provinces and territories 2010).

“Over the 10 years leading to the 2006 census, the median age in Nova Scotia increased by six years, compared to just four years in Canada as a whole. The province has the highest proportion of residents older than 65, at 16 per cent. By 2036, projections show somewhere between one in four and one in three residents will be of retirement age.”  (The Globe and Mail – Rural Nova Scotia faces demographic reality of elderly, declining population – May 2012).

“Based on the 2006 Census of Population, Lunenburg County has a population of 47,150 which is 0.9% lower than in 1996. In 2006, 20.1% of the population was under the age of 20 and 19.0% was 65 years or older.” (2006 Census of Population)

Lunenburg County is getting long in the tooth. 

“Recently released 2011 census data revealed Nova Scotia’s rate of 16.6 per cent seniors was the highest of any province in Canada, yet Lunenburg County’s percentage was 21.6 per cent.  The age gap widened in the towns of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, where over 30 per cent of all residents were retirement age and the median ages were 52.8 and 55.5, respectively, compared to 43.7 province wide.  Even in Bridgewater, where the median age is 47 and the population rose 3.7 per cent over the past five years compared to 0.9 per cent provincially, that growth was due to an increase in the 65-and-up age group.”  (Census details aging population – Nearly a third of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg residents age 65 or over – SouthShoreNow.ca – June 2012).

Internet usage is increasing dramatically for seniors. 

In the 2010 Pew Internet survey, they found that usage in ages 18-55 has basically plateaued between 80-95% (as per the 2007 chart), however the older age groups had continued to increase:  age 57-65:  76%, age 66-74:  58%,  and age 75+:  30%.

By extrapolating the above statistics, based on a Lunenburg County population of approximately 47,000 persons and a current percentage population of seniors at 21.6% and potentially doubling by 2031 (Stats Canada – Population of Nova Scotia Seniors (65+) By County, 2007 and 2031) it may be interpreted that there approximately 10,000 seniors today and increasing to more than 20,000 over the next 20 years in Lunenburg county alone.  Current trends indicate that a minimum of 40-50% of seniors are using the internet (and thus computer technology), which yields a current minimum of 4,000 potential Lunenburg county senior IT users, poised to double within 20 years based solely on population trends and significantly faster as usage percentages also increase.

Furthermore, this group stands to gain significantly by increasing computer and internet usage.  Issues such as social interaction, government services, e-commerce activities, healthcare, retirement planning and education can be improved through increased computer usage by senior citizens.  Internet-based, mobile and pervasive technologies provide a means for older people to establish and maintain relationships over long distances.