Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Elderly People and Their Information Needs

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Elderly People and Their Information Needs

Article excerpt


A common focus of the information behaviour literature is on how the target populations seek and use information to meet their need. Information seeking behaviour deals with the psychological behaviour of the seeker, which involves the searching, locating, retrieving and using of information (Karunarathna, 2008).

Everyone needs information to survive and strive in this 21st century, just as doctors need information to treat patients, lawyers to handle cases, teachers need information to prepare lesson notes, teach their students and prepare them for a career ahead of them, the elderly also requires much information to stay healthy, make informed choices and to remain current with news and happenings around them. The information needs of the elderly population, particularly in rural areas, have scarcely been investigated by researchers and are very poorly covered in the literatures of information science (Zou & Zhou, 2014).

According to WHO (2015) most developed countries of the world have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of elderly or older person. It is well known that the world's population is ageing, with more developed regions leading this trend. This is due to increasing survival to older ages as well as smaller numbers of birth (United Nations Population Division, 1998). In some parts of Nigeria, most frail elderly people lived in the community supported by family and friends. In the United States for example, the older population-persons 65 years or older-numbered 39.6 million .They represented 12.9% of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000. (U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).

The elderly are usually inquisitive and this prompts their search for information. They want to know more about their health condition, current happenings around them, technologies that could assist them etc. Bruce (2005) states that, "information plays a significant role in our daily professional and personal lives and we are constantly challenged to take charge of the information that we need for work, fun and everyday decisions and tasks". The elderly like their younger counterparts requires information to meet their day-to-day needs. This study is therefore aimed at determining the information seeking behaviour of the elderly with a view to improving their searching skills, identify the challenges they face while searching for information and proffer possible solutions to them.

Objectives of the Study

This study sought to establish ways of enhancing the information- seeking behaviour of the elderly. To attain this goal, the study stipulated the following objectives:

* To find out the sources of information the elderly are familiar with.

* To identify their information needs.

* To know the use they put the information obtained.

* To establish the problems that the elderly encounter in information seeking.

Research Questions

For the purpose of this research, the following questions have been formulated:

* What are the sources of information the elderly are familiar with?

* What are the information needs of the elderly?

* To what use the elderly put the information they obtained.

* What are the factors militating against the available and accessibility of information by the elderly?

Literature Review

The concept of aging is multifaceted; this is because there are chronological, biological, psychological, and social, functional dimensions of aging (Papalia, Feldman,& Camp, 2002; Hoyer & Roodin, 2003). Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa, currently have the highest number of aged or elderly people in Africa (Kinsella & Velkoff, 2001). As the largest population in Africa and the ninth in the world, it is estimated that by the year 2025 the population of Nigerians aged 60 and above will constitute 6percent of the entire population (Gesinde, Adedapo & Charles, 2011). …

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