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Remote Care Technology and Older Adults - Filling in the basics 2020

Technology was essential for many adults stuck at home during the pandemic, providing some social connection, access to online shopping, home delivery services, and requests for transportation. But it also became apparent that some older adults were shut out from these due to limitations in vision, hearing, dexterity, and even dementia.  And for some, technologies were not affordable – median income of a household age 75+ is $34,925. Yet it is also becoming apparent that organizations that serve older adults realize that gaps exist. They are increasingly motivated and will strive to ramp up efforts to deliver a greater degree of access than the numbers show today. What are the key dimensions that need to be addressed moving forward?

  • Device access.  Even if older adults had at least regional access to broadband, the devices they are using may not be up to the engagement, healthcare, or smarter home opportunities that would improve quality of life. And a sizable percentage do not own an appropriate device.  According to AARP’s December 2019 research report, 62% of those aged 70+ own a smartphone and 40% own a tablet.  And even if they did, they might need help with an up-to-date Internet router, managing software upgrades, and avoiding spam and web threats. While smart speakers and voice assistants have improved ease of use and seamless upgrades, both depend on broadband to work properly.
  • Training access.  For those older adults who own the right devices to obtain access, have Internet connectivity, they may need assistance in getting started with use of remote care technologies.  A popular engagement tool like Zoom have a less than intuitive user interface for the uninitiated, prompting a 9-page guide from Senior Planet , as well as senior living organizations providing a Zoom guide. And one of the key requirements for video tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams is helping people get and/or position a camera.

[This is the last blog post in the series about The Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults 2020, a research report to be released soon]

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