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AgeTech

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AgeTech

Older adults need vendor empathy to attain digital literacy

Picking on Apple because they are there, but of course they are not unique. What’s new with iOS 16 on the iPad? Tap this on an iPad and you will see a screen that demonstrates ‘Collections’. And behold there’s the SNOOPY Show. Below that, advice on how to share what you’re watching on Apple TV (pictured are several smiling youths).  So easy, on your Siri Remote, press and hold a button to open the control center, select the SharePlay button then choose what to watch together.  Oops, not supported by all apps.  Watch and listen together? More young folk. Add widgets to your home screen, ditto on the images.  See ‘Reduce background noise.’ That’s fun: Open Control Center, tap Mic Mode, then tap Voice Isolation to make sure your voice comes through loud and clear.  And so on. Go through the “Essentials’ and it’s more of the same – pictures are very cool, the people shown are very young.  Welcome to iPad! The instructions are required because the UI behavior varies across different apps and screens.

Digital literacy -- the required and moving target for older adults

Digital literacy – what is it? The term “Digital literacy” has been defined by the American Library Association task force as "the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills." Their definition of its importance began in the context of children and libraries. But its importance at every age, especially for older adults. Note that 25% of the 65+ population is not online. Yet for them, digital literacy is even more critical – when you consider how much useful information is available from or about our healthcare providers and related services. Consider the CDC definition of health literacy for individuals – "find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others." These capabilities are nearly entirely dependent on digital literacy – the ability to find and use information. Yet a new study just published noted that 91% of baby boomers felt overwhelmed by technology, with computers being the most daunting device.

New technologies may mitigate fall risk – and just in time

The stats on death from falls are startling – especially for the 65+.  Death rates are rising, projected to be 7 up to deaths per hour for the 65+ by 2030.  And that falls are the leading cause of injury death among the 65+.  Did you know that the majority of hip fractures are from falling, usually sideways?  Did you know that medical costs from falls was $50 billion in were projected to be $52 billion in 2020? And that the costs (estimated at $754 million in 2015) were mostly paid by Medicare and Medicaid (the latter likely in nursing homes.)  So many factors contribute to the risk of falling, including lower body weakness, balance issues, medications, and home hazards.

CENSUS: Senior care growth means tech change will be mandatory

The Census knows the growth and potential explosion of care needs and older adults. Consider their newly published document explaining the industries to those who may still not see what’s happening. "Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly saw a 34.4% increase in revenue from 2013 to 2020.  Home Health Care Services experienced an even larger increase – 50.5% -- during the same period." These assertions are built on the Service Annual Survey (2021).   The U.S. Census Bureau projects that in 2050, the U.S. population ages 65 and over will be 83.9 million, nearly double what it was (43.1 million) in 2012.

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