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Five policy changes from 2023 that will drive more tech for older adults

The 2024 Market Overview of Technology for Aging will be published during CES 2024.  As part of that update, it is worth considering changes that occurred in the past year that matter to older adults and families. Caregiving and other demands of an aging population gained significant government attention and new initiatives during 2023. While some of the actions below will require further funding action from Congress, all of these represent forward momentum for long-needed changes. It is likely that technology enablement and access will be components of each of the initiatives as they evolve. Categories include:

Broadband: Recognizing that access to high speed Internet is essential for all age groups, including low income, the elderly and disabled, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), provided a 2023 update to a government-supported discount on broadband access, which represents a significant effort to improve (and complete) access to broadband for all.

Caregivers: In April, 2023, the White House issued “The Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers (EO) including more than 50 directives to nearly every cabinet-level agency to expand access to affordable, high-quality care, and provide support for care workers and family caregivers.” This included caregivers of children, the elderly and the disabled.   Also in 2023, AARP updated its report, Valuing the Invaluable: Strengthening Supports for Family Caregivers.

Dementia care. From the White House Fact Sheet: “The Executive Order directs Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider testing a new dementia care model that will include support for respite care (short-term help to give a primary family caregiver a break) and make it easier for family caregivers to access Medicare beneficiary information and provide more support to family caregivers during the hospital discharge planning process.”

Medicaid Home Care Services. The President’s Budget also includes $150 billion over the next decade to improve and expand Medicaid home care services—making it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to live, work, and participate in their communities. (Medicaid is partially funded by the Federal government and the states, which may manage home-based services differently.) This funding can improve the quality of jobs for home care workers and support family caregivers. The Administration is also promoting the use of apprenticeship programs and partnering with employers, unions, and others to recruit, train, and keep long-term care workers on the job while also helping them advance their careers as registered and licensed nurses.

Older Americans Act Update 2023. The Older Americans Act has been re-authorized multiple times and includes multiple categories that are further enabled with technology support, as described in detail in the Overview of Older Americans Act Programs. Notably mentioned includes self-directed care, information and assistance, statewide programs to improve access to technology, purchase of technology and training about the use of technology as part of programs that include training for employment, information and referral, nutrition assistance, and health support.

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