Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Why not an insurance to protect from a disruptive technology future?

Is there an insurance for future-proofing technology access for older adults?


We buy many insurances – just in case.  Car, homeowners, apartment, flood, personal liability – all are hedges against the unknown and unwanted.  Seeing a business opportunity, insurers created a long-term care insurance market for a benefit the customer might not need for another 25 years. We can buy a service contract to cover repairs of our appliances.  Yet when we purchase technology, carrier, or software services, the offering changes ever more quickly -- and our technology becomes obsolete. So we toss the products (and services) into the soon-forgotten gadget graveyard with 120 million mobile phones discarded in 2010 alone.


We are always in restart mode. We pay all over again for the same mind-numbing learning curve about new chargers, cases, setups, upgrades, downloads, uploads, backups and restore processes (such as in-car technology). The most we can buy is a Geek Squad-like service plan for fixing the current mishmash of gadgets. We cannot buy an insurance service plan for the gadgets that haven’t been invented yet – the ones that we have not yet acquired.


Optimistic boomers think future technology will be a piece of cake.  Asked to picture the future, boomers think they will be different from their parents who resisted new technologies.  Even Best buy agrees that this is a boomer-senior problem – that the next generation won’t need genius bars or geek squads. Even boomers insist that their tech-savviness today will serve them well in 20-25 years – they will accommodate whatever ‘innovations’ Silicon Valley designers, all still 20-somethings, will foist on them. Boomers see the unknown tech future as something they can and want to deal with, the way they mastered (sort of) home network setup, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Skype, and Instagram. And they will want to deal with it, because, well, they are boomers. 


Not so fast – maybe our appalled 80-year-old selves will opt out. Roll many of the current phenomena forward – and then imagine that like today’s 80-somethings, we have become fond of what we know and resistant to what we don’t know.  Why are there are 80+ folks out there who still carry clamshell phones and whose only tablets are meds?  Not because they hate new technology, but because mandated change is stressful. What if the lame attempts to regain and preserve personal online privacy fail – and online identity theft is the new normal? Cybersecurity jobs are booming, of course. Will the trend of decreasing device and internet safety push boomers to return to the horse-and-buggy era of telephone calls, email, and even handwritten letters? Or will the insurance industry identify an opportunity to create a long-term tech care policy that will protect us from future risks and obsolescence in our online and gadget use?

Comments

Confusing technology is the mortar in the bond between grandparents and grandchildren as the grandchildren are the only ones that can help the grandparents adapt to the ever changing technology. If the technology becomes too easy to use, grandparents will become estranged from the grandchildren except via a two dimensional screen. Save the generational bond, keep technology complicated.

What if you do not have grandkids, for any number of reason, some of them very good (did not have kids, your kids did not have kids, young death, etc)?

 

Grandkids grow up and move away, too.

 

What I want is a corp that recognizes that I am not tech adverse, but simply "bad" tech adverse.

 

I have been around long enough to use tech and have seen LOTS of "bad" tech, poorly thought out, for any age user.

 

Apple comes closest to being user-friendly, but it still changes things yearly--much too often in my book.  I understand, they need to make money, the raison d'etre of corps.

Because technology evolution/ chance is not just probable, it is inevitable. Tech developers are already moving towards models like Software as a Service, lease models, hardware agnostic and platform as a service. These models are starting to migrate to the consumer market with contracts that allow you to change your device every year and pay in installments.

Senior Vice President for Technology and Executive Director Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST), LeadingAge

This is the kind of innovative thinking needed to "help" change efforts.

Peg Graham, Improving the Caregiving Experience, Chair of the YANA Health Forum

I think if there were more things done to educate the elderly on new technology, they wouldn't have such an aversion to it.