Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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baby boomers

Independence Day – How Old Age is a (New) Number

Movin' up – so goes the definition of old age. Maybe this confirms what you have already observed, and the Society of Actuaries (which also uses Social Security Life Tables) has also calculated. According to Stanford economist John Shoven, the definition of "old" is rising, ridiculously compared to the 1920s, but very interesting, nonetheless. Says Shoven: For women, "old" is approximately age 73, with women transitioning out of middle age at 65. For men, he asserts that "old" is around age 70, with transitioning out of middle age at age 60.  The assumption underlying this are based on "risk of dying" within 1, 2 or 4 years. If it is 1% or less, a person is is middle-aged. Good graphic, and no surprise, it's another document in the litany of advice for deferring Social Security payments until late, late, late, despite the actual behavior in which 42% of men and 48% of women are claiming it at age 62.

Say it ain’t so -- will boomers age into a technology divide?

Boomers and technology – it’s a given.  Yesterday yet another baby boomer reporter asserted what is believed by many to be the obvious.  Baby boomers will not be tech-phobic (presumably like their parents) – but will be willing and able to use the newest technology in their later years.  What’s the proof?  They use it now – for example, 83% are using the Internet, look at Facebook pages for health information, form social connections, research online, etc.  And baby boomers, many of whom are now ‘seniors’, expect technology to help them remain independent as they age. This is such a significant possibility that tech designers are actually encouraged to consider them when designing a new product.

The content of our lives – who cares enough to save it?

Imagine all the non-digital photos and memorabilia. Forget Airbnb and driving for Uber. Boomers with creativity, organizational skill and some technology can follow multiple small business paths that have large emotional implications for the customer. Consider the large and small albums of photos, cassette tapes, home movies – not just from the boomers aged 51-71, but from their parents, and even some from their parents’ parents. Will anyone want it? Cynics contend that not only will the old content be lost due to disinterest, but that current content (selfies, group photos, Facebook and Instagram shots of that great dinner) will also be lost, some say, to collective disinterest – the photo only mattering in the moment.

Your Money or Your Life: AARP Fintech and Amazon Show

So many head-spinning numbers to describe the 50+ Consumer.  In making the case for the 'Fintech' innovation market opportunity, AARP’s new Financial Innovation Frontiers report (aimed at the Fintech industry) freely fires off a wide range of market segment numbers.  Is the report about the population aged 50-100?  There are 111 million Americans aged 50 and older, 35% of the US population, described as a 'generation.'  That includes three segments of baby boomers as well as their parents. The report is not about the growing life expectancy of those who live to age 65 with their predicted longevity  (88.8 for women, 86.6 for men). Instead, the report focuses on the 50+ Consumer (their term) aged 50-60 who is a decade away or less from ‘retirement’, an increasingly obsolete term. They are confronted with a range of financial challenges -- the report suggests fintech tools that could help them deal with retirement savings shortfalls resulting from career setbacks ($4.3 trillion savings gap), unplanned withdrawals ($4.1 trillion) and student debt ($1.3 trillion).

The mythology of caregiver technology's non-adoption

Pundits perpetuate the myth of non-use of so-called caregiver technology. [Rant on.] According to AARP, 40 million caregivers are taking care of an older, sicker person -- so says an oft-quoted 2013 AARP Public Policy Report statistic. A different AARP/Catalyst 2016 survey asserts only 7% of these caregivers use technology to help them. What is the 'technology' they won't use? And what is the theory as to why they won’t? Says Jeff Makowka of AARP: "Since many such caregivers also hold down regular jobs, they simply don’t have time to try some new technology." But if they’re working (or of working age), three-fourths of them have smartphones. And given the data-hogging nature of smartphones, all are fairly new. But wait, he also cited an example of an Amazon Echo as deployed for a family member with dementia -- enabling endless repetition of questions like 'What time is it?' etc. Okay, we have to ask, is the Echo a 'caregiving technology?' How about Facebook, described as a caregiver 'mecca'? Do survey respondents consider those technologies when asked?

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