Colin Whaley, MD MSc

Internal Medicine Resident Physician, University of Toronto

Older Adults and Technology

January 01, 2022

I have always had a personal interest in technology, which started when I would “fix” the family computer running Windows 95 as a three-year-old. This has blossomed into a life-long love of technology, both personally and professionally.

When I learned through a news report about the benefits older adults can experience when they use technology, I co-founded the enTECH Computer Club at the University of Waterloo as an undergraduate student. EnTECH's vision is a world where everyone has the means, support, and tools to engage with technology, and primarily accomplishes this by directly supporting older adults living in retirement and long-term care homes in using technology to keep in contact with their families, and for recreation. 
What started as a small group of undergrad students going to a local retirement home once a week blossomed into an organization that is entering its seventh year of operations, and spawning four articles, two peer-reviewed publications, two media interviews, and a TEDx talk I delivered at TEDxUW in 2020:
EnTECH has also been featured in an article in The Record, as well as an interview on interview on CBC KW's The Morning Edition:
EnTECH colleagues and I have also written a number of articles on enTECH's work and the value of helping older adults use technology, which have been published in medical and geriatric-focussed lay-person publications:
  1. Innovative approaches to engage older adults with technology. Hoang P, Whaley C. The National Geriatrics Interest Group Publication 2018. Link.
  2. Staying connected and staying safe: how the enTECH Computer Club breaks down barriers to using tech. Haider R, Tram T, Ho V, Whaley C. Canadian Federation of Medical Students Annual Review 2021. Link.
  3. Promoting technology literacy among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Ho V, Tram T, Whaley C. The National Geriatrics Interest Group Publication 2021. Link.
  4. Telemedicine is here to stay: Switching reactive to proactive virtual care. Khan M, Cheung K, Nasir M, Whaley C. The National Geriatrics Interest Group Publication 2021. Link.
I see many of these articles as an opportunity to mentor more junior enTECH volunteers, helping them go deeper in an area of interest and produce a meaningful piece of work at the end, and which also spreads news of enTECH's mission.
One of our volunteers, Nathan Nagallo created a knowledge translation document for an honours thesis project supervised by Dr. Jim Wallace, distilling much of what makes enTECH tick into an easy-to-read document aimed at lay people:

enTECH Knowledge Translation Document

We are incredibly pleased with the progress that the club has made in providing services to the Waterloo Region and beyond, including technology support at two different retirement and long-term care homes, at the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre, and since the beginning of the pandemic, an at-home support service named enTECH@home