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For older adults, consider the context of tech change in 2023

Taking stock of the tech market for older adults – what’s happened? Past the halfway mark in 2023, it’s increasingly clear that the older adult tech market has been disrupted by changes in demand. Its increasingly transformed by new technologies emerging from new funding sources, tech disruption, and entrepreneurial initiatives. Some might say that tech adoption is slow in some sectors, but it is not for lack of widespread funding sources and innovator motivation. What is the context for technology change in 2023?

The constituents are changing. Families are relentless about keeping aging relatives at home. And it is not just them  Government too is motivated to enable them to remain there, even when it may not make the most sense. The care worker shortage has spurring more uses of technology in nursing homes and long term care settings. There is a workforce crisis spreading across in-home care services.  As with other crises, technology solutions will be explored and adopted. 

Grant funding for technology access is exploding. Community, state (see California’s $50 million for technology access for older adults and people with disabilities), national (see NIA Johns Hopkins AI and Aging $20 million) or broadband (see federal $826 million for broadband in Colorado).  Investors are paying attention to the older adult market -- and investors like Primetime Partners, Ziegler Linkage Funds. And other grantors include TechStars and CTA Foundation, which strive to accelerate tech adoption among older adults.

Driven by AI offerings, new tech introduction is accelerating.  Barely 2 minutes after the publication of the report, The Future of Sensors and Older Adults, along came ChatGPT, wildly disruptive and in the long-term, transforming ways we interact with technology.  Following the initial billions and billions invested in AI offerings, the big gun investments may be tapering. Instead the ‘landscape is teeming’ with AI startups.  And even ChatGPT can cough up ways that AI can help in care delivery. The government has offered up an AI bill of rights and Congress is, uh, thinking over its role in regulation.  Despite or because of those efforts, the odds are that AI will become ubiquitous. Will the time come that we no longer notice its presence in nearly every device and increasingly predictive piece of software?  Well of course. That day will come, just as we no longer notice that we are using web browsers, search engines, smart phones, text messaging or speaking with our voice (first).

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