Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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May 2019

Linkage – A rare survey of technology ownership among the oldest

When there’s nothing else to buy. Funny about technology ownership among the oldest – generally there is no way to know whether they own any or if would they buy it. Neither Pew (in 2018) nor AARP (2019 technology ownership) broke out upper age ranges. So Link·age Connect is an outlier that asks ownership questions and documents age breakdowns of responders, half of whom were age 75+. This 2019 Technology Survey of Older Adults Age 55-100, conducted online, notes that 80% of respondents (45% of whom live in senior-oriented communities/housing) have smartphones. At this point, if the mobile phone breaks, what’s the store rep going to promote, and it doesn’t matter which store? While they carry flip/feature phones, an iPhone or an Android phone can be used just like a flip phone. More than 50% of respondents have smart TVs (yes, that’s nearly all you can buy these days).

Technology non-adoption of the oldest – it’s a bug, not a feature

Not adopting tech -- it's not okay. Lacking access to smartphones, Internet, in-home broadband/WiFi cuts oldest out of access to modern telehealth, communication and engagement, in-home sensors, outside-home GPS, fall detection, and device integration with smartphones. The issue of non-adoption, particularly as more health services move online, will become increasingly vexing for service providers of all types. Surveying of the oldest has fallen out of favor, though Link-ageConnect persists, thankfully -- see their 2019 report. But over the years much has been opined about the reasons – so here is some more opining. Rant on.

Technology, Bad Design and the Kitchen Pliers

You have a pliers in your kitchen. Rant on. If you were lucky enough to read Don Norman’s rant in Fast Company, you must agree with his view of design and its mismatch with the needs of the elderly. You would agree with Don that today’s designs fail all people, not just the elderly.  Because you too have a pliers or wrench in your kitchen to twist tops off bottles and jars. You puzzle at how best to position a knife to release the suction on jars. You have a slippery front door handle that a person with hand arthritis could never open. You have a not-so-universal TV remote with 45 buttons on it, the smallest of which is ‘Mute’.  If you have another box, it has a remote, and perhaps another for stereo equipment and an stylishly confusing one for Apple TV. And that’s just one room. You frequently want to print from a device to a network printer, which requires a network, which requires a router, which needs an upgrade. Let’s not go there.

Five Virtual Reality technology offerings for older adults in 2019

In 2017, it was clear that virtual reality technology had evolved beyond the point of experiments and was having a number of limited introductions into the world of older adults, including senior living environments (Rendever) as well as pain mitigation (FirstHand). Virtual reality has made its way into the 'future of healthcare delivery' consulting, as firms like Care Innovations and Deloitte publish their how-to white papers.  For 2019, here are five VR offerings that specifically note benefits for older adults. The content is drawn from the firms’ websites and/or articles about them:

Older adult finances and future senior housing options are out of sync    

Rant on. A sad tale - reading the lament about the numbers of seniors who will not be able to afford assisted living in 10 years. The report is from NIC – the National Investment Center that provides research to the senior living industry. The upshot – 54% will be unable to pay the $60,000 average annual cost of assisted living (make that $93,000 in Washington DC), even if they sell their home. If one member of a couple is still living in the home, the number rises to 81%.  According to the study, 60% of the population aged 75+ will have mobility, cognitive impairment or chronic conditions that would characterize them as good candidates for assisted living services and settings – but will not have the savings to enable them to move in.

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