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To boost tech adoption, consider the benefit of a survey

The ACS will size tech adoption – and not a minute too soon. We might learn from the upcoming American Community Survey (ACS) data release which households have broadband connectivity, own a computer or other devices – down to a level of granularity that includes that rarely surveyed category, age 85+. And we may be able to examine age in relationship to tech ownership. In 2011, as part of the Linkage Technology Survey of Adults age 65-100, the report observes that there are few surveys of technology ownership among the older adult population.

Why do surveys of older adults matter? Twelve years later, not much has changed. And yet, post Covid-19, so many government agencies, the White House, universities and for-profit companies want to boost that adoption to mitigate social isolation, boost access to telehealth, nutrition and even a basic, finding health information. Yet consider the OATS/AARP 22 million of the 65+ that lack home broadband (derived from the Census)? Pew’s 25% of the 65+ that don’t go online? AARP’s survey that combines older adults into a 70+ age group? At 65, both men and women can expect to live another 20 years on average. Some will live much longer. Surveys of tech adoption can be indicators about quality of life, combined with whether a person is a solo ager, surrounded by family in their later years, able to afford the technology to enable long-distance connections.

Why do surveys of older adults matter? To identify target markets and close gaps. Imagine that your company sells technology products and services to households in geographies outside of urban centers. Perhaps you know which homes have broadband already – but do you know what technology they already have (computers, laptops, smartphones, smart speakers, smart TVs)? Do you know what software they own, including platforms that drive sales of your partners’ offerings? Would a survey help tech companies like yours close the technology adoption gap? Is your offering mentioned in publications about older adults

Why survey senior living and home care firms about client technology adoption? Again it helps vendors to target markets more effectively. But it also helps those organizations improve operations, especially through comparison with their peers. Organizations like Leading Age, Argentum, Home Care surveys, Aging Life Care (Geriatric Care Managers) need to know what technology their older adult constituents own (or lack), whether that is part of service delivery or making recommendations for tech usage that could connect seniors with families and healthcare providers. The current baseline of non-adoption is the starting point for advocates attempting to change the status quo.

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