Budget 2022 must focus on supporting older people when it comes to online activities and communication.
That's according to Active Retirement Ireland, who are calling for a 'Digital Connection Allowance' in Budget 2022, to support older people's participation in online activities such as telemedicine, online banking and most importantly, keeping in touch with others.
They say it's difficult for many pensioners to afford devices such as smartphones and iPads and that learning how to use them can be an issue too.
It's also believed that the current lack of digital supports for Ireland's older people is putting them at risk of isolation and loneliness which can have a devastating effect on their mental wellbeing.
South east representative for the group Ann Rochford says the pandemic brought the severity of this problem to light.
Ann Rochford, the south east representative for the organisation says recent events have really brought the issue to light.
"I think the pandemic has brought a lot to light in regard to older people. certainly those that are living alone. Some of them had no way of contacting people except maybe through the landline because not all of them have mobile phones, and they certainly wouldn't have computers and ipads to do skyping with their family who may be living away.
So, from that point of view, they were very much alone.
Perhaps iPads or something like that that could be supplied at a low cost to them. They were very very isolated and very lonely in the pandemic and I think we really need to look to help and support them going forward."
Some of them had no way of contacting people except maybe through the landline because not all of them have mobile phones and they certainly wouldn't have computers and ipads to do skyping with their family who may be living away. So, from that point of view, they were very much alone.
She says digital technology is much more expensive than a traditional landline between the initial cost of a smart device as well as the monthly costs associated with credit or billpay phones. There is a question of broadband costs too. These are the expenses, Ann would like to see some support for.
"I would like to see an allowance restored for the annual cost of an iPad or iPhone or something like that. The ETB's [education and training boards] around the country do free digital training so there shouldn't be a cost issue there. But I think the digital connection in the beginning if you buy it and you have a monthly bill, some allowance towards that is needed."