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computers, broadband, and social networking

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computers, broadband, and social networking

The Census Really Knows: Tech usage and the 65+

When it comes to people, the US Census has all the data.  From its American Community Survey (ACS) summary files and detailed tables, we know as of November, 2021, for example, the US population (315 million), the number of housing units (133 million) and whether they are owner-occupied. Further, it tells  the number of people in geographic locations, education and marital status, employment status (173 million), the percent aged 65+ (more than 55 million as of the date of the most recent survey).  The questionnaire is publicly available on the Census website. While many of the questions are intriguing (and used for redistricting) and the data results are much-reported, technology ownership is rarely discussed.  So here are some snapshots of changes in the ACS data from 2015 to 2021: 

Isn't it time for a Voice-enabled Tech Concierge?

Tech complexity for new users is getting worse. And it’s pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention to Apple new releases, new versions of Android phones and other apps like Spotify. And then there’s the PC that runs out of memory – just encountered yesterday. You want to see what that means by checking the manual.  How naïve.  No manual.  So you do what everyone who has just encountered an error message does.  You search the tech forums, find the example of what happened and voilà, there’s the fix. Certainly that must be what senior living residents and older adults living at home do, not to mention the of-course sizable tech staff working in senior living and elder care. Oops.

US Census: some older adults still lack computers and Internet access

We are used to citing population surveys to cite trends. Tech adoption among older adults is clearly increasing. The growth has been tracked most recently in survey samples that compared the most recent with prior time periods: AARP surveyed 2063 and Pew Research surveyed 1502 adults. And Linkage Connect surveys the oldest, with a sizable sample of 2398 older adults. For all three, broadband access and smartphone ownership and use is growing. But what if tech adoption came from a sample size of 2.9 million households pulled from the 5-year census (American Community Survey/ACS) data? That was posted in November of 2021, with surveying ending in 2020 (just before Covid-19) and was made available within the last month. Good news -- seventy-six percent of the 65+ population as of 2020 has access to broadband -- and tech adoption has clearly risen since 2015. One might assume that post-Covid census data will be even more significant.

To boost tech adoption, consider the benefit of a survey

The ACS will size tech adoption – and not a minute too soon. We might learn from the upcoming American Community Survey (ACS) data release which households have broadband connectivity, own a computer or other devices – down to a level of granularity that includes that rarely surveyed category, age 85+. And we may be able to examine age in relationship to tech ownership. In 2011, as part of the Linkage Technology Survey of Adults age 65-100, the report observes that there are few surveys of technology ownership among the older adult population.

Tech for quality of (an aging) life

The rise of AgeTech – it is a trend. It’s easy to say, and it resonates -- especially compared to other long-standing terms like assistive technology, gerontechnology and durable medical equipment (DME). Parks Associates published a useful chart this week about the Changing form factors of panic buttons – take a look. But that was not the real subject of the article (thankfully). Rather, it suggested that while form factors are changing (from pendant to smart watch to home sensor technology), the shortage of labor in the caregiving market means that tech to help 66 million caregivers matters more than ever. In fact, one in five ‘broadband’ households is currently or will soon care for a family member, likely remaining in their own or a relative’s home.

Interactive television offerings in 2022 for health and wellbeing

For older adults, television is a solid rock in an ever-shifting technology landscape. Approximately half of the older adult population has a smart TV – a common platforms used to stream Internet services without an associated specialty box like Apple TVRoku or Chromecast. And the rest may have standard TV with attached streaming devices. Smart TVs, a treasure trove of data, according to Elizabeth Parks, CEO of Parks Associates, can also deliver access to telehealth services, share family photos, and provide engagement for older adults who may be homebound. Alternatively, a device can be connected to a TV to enable an organization or family to connect directly with older adults who may not be comfortable with smartphones, tablets or smart speakers. Here are six TV-based offerings for older adults – in alphabetical order, all information is from the companies’ websites or press releases:

Aging and Health Technology Watch 2021 Research – A Recap

2021 – even less travel than previous – so for many, it was the best of times. Not just for Zoom, the company, but for many who wished to spend more time thinking and less time in airports. That meant it was still feasible to write monthly blog posts, publish client white papers and complete interview-intensive research reports.  It was feasible to consider topics such as AI and machine learning, Home Care technology, the role of big tech companies and older adults, barriers to tech adoption, broadband access, predictive analytics, voice first, and the role of tech in Villages. And that was in addition to doing a CES 2021 blog post about ten and with too many companies, posting a second one. Likely this coming CES 2022 will have two blog posts, not to mention more press releases. 2021was a year of research about wearables and smart homes – plus a fully updated Market Overview. Here are the summaries of those reports – in case you missed them:

Did you miss one? Four tech/aging blog posts from October 2021

It's 2021 -- are older adults well-served by technology? Some progress has been made -- Apple and Amazon seem interested in the older adult segment. Smartphones are being adopted by the majority of older adults, including those aged 70+. That’s despite their touchy screens, inconsistent app designs, and now silly warnings about app tracking on Apple devices. Those self-righteous warning are especially amusing, given that Gmail is the most frequently used email client (with 53% of the US market), including on iPhones. And you know that for Gmail and other ‘free’ software (like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), you are the product for advertisers and more. But we digress. In home care, technology plays a tangential role at best, though tech exists, including AI and machine learning, that could improve care of older adults. And the potential for a smarter (and healthier) home is growing -- an upcoming research report will describe that potential in December. For now, here are four blog posts for October:

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