Caring for data in later life – the datafication of ageing as a matter of care

Vera Gallistl*, Roger von Laufenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the datafication of ageing by drawing on a practice approach toward care. We describe the datafication of ageing as a matter of care, achieved through the local tinkering of actors–technology designers, care staff, older adults, and highlighting the practices necessary to develop, maintain and implement data infrastructures. This paper draws on research conducted in a qualitative interview study in a LTC facility that uses AI-supported sensors to detect, predict and alarm care staff about falls of older residents. 18 interviews with developers, staff, residents and interest groups were conducted, as well as 24 h of participant observation in the care facility. The results reveal how AI-development for older target groups is characterized by absent data on these populations. Designers turn to practices that decontextualize data from the realities of older adults, relying on domain experts or synthetic data. This decontextualization of data requires recontextualization, with staff and older residents ensuring that the system functions smoothly, adapting their behavior, protecting the system from making false decisions and making existing care arrangements ‘fit’ the databases used to monitor activities in these arrangements. The ambivalent position of older adults in this data assemblage is further highlighted, as their caring practices are made invisible by different actors through ageist stereotypes, positioning them as being too frail to understand and engage with the system. While their bodily behavior is core for the databases, their perspective on and engagements with the operating system are marginalized, rendering some aspects of ageing hyper-visible, and others invisible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-789
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 07 Nov 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Caring for data in later life – the datafication of ageing as a matter of care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this