Older adults don’t have to be left behind
Home health — or “aging in place” — is a hot topic in the technology industry.
We’re talking about ways that tech can help our loved ones age independently without the need to go into an assisted living facility or require daily help at home.
Most of the technology currently focuses around a few areas:
- Surveillance of the individual so those caring for the individual(s) know if they aren’t moving, have fallen or had an accident;
- Managing medication, making it easier for the person to know when and how much medication to take during the day;
- In-home medical care, such as preventive monitoring of vital signs, blood sugar and more; and
- Reactive emergency medical care in the case of a massive medical failure like a heart attack or stroke.
All these technologies for our older population are great — but we have forgotten one major thing: one-third of adults ages 65 and older say they’ve never used the internet, and half don’t have internet access at home. Of those that do have internet, nearly half report that they need assistance setting up or using a new digital device. While the majority of the rest of the population is communicating online, we are leaving this group behind — it’s a situation that can lead to loneliness and even depression.
By 2030 all baby boomers will be older than age 65.
There is a very important date rapidly approaching that drives this somber point home: According to the 2017 National Population Projections, by 2030 all baby boomers will be older than age 65. This will expand the size of the older population to the point that one in every five residences will be occupied by folks at retirement age. This will be the first time in US history when older people are projected to outnumber children.
We can help this population by actively making technology easier to use and making it more intuitive. Manufacturers can design products specifically for the older population that have visual and hearing disabilities as well as difficulties holding objects. There will still be a segment of this population that will resist these technologies. In a person-to-person setting, home technology professionals with experience and knowledge can offer consulting, “do it for me” or, “do it with me” services to help overcome the fears and lack of experience for this generation to use the technology. References:
On tech adoption
NOTE: This Emerging Trends piece is brought to you by CEDIA’s Technology Advisory Council and Technology Application & Innovation department.