Is It Possible To Be Too Old for Technology? Senior Citizens in the Digital Area
Embracing technology may prove to be more beneficial than harmful for today’s 60 and older. There is a stereotype that new technology is too much for those over a certain age, but more and more seniors are embracing the digital era. According to the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of those over 65 use the internet, which is a 43 percent increase from 2000. New technology makes certain aspects of daily life easier for the older generations; such as staying in touch with family and being able to live on their own, even with disabilities. Typically, young retirees and those closer to 60 are known for using more mobile devices. Around 70 and above, they move toward more assistive technology, but there are still ways for them to benefit from mobile electronics. For example, FaceTime, Skype and grandCARE offer seniors the ability to socialize with family and friends who are far away or on bedrest. Aging technologies are becoming a billion dollar market that focuses on devices and systems that can manage medication, coordinate caregivers, respond to emergencies, and track health. BeClose tracks an elderly loved one's daily routine using discreet wireless sensors placed in the home. The GPS SmartSole is an insole that placed into the shoes of an elder (typically with Alzheimer's) so he/she can be easily found if they wander off somewhere. Even cable companies are taking advantage of aging technology, cameras via Comcast’s Xfinity can be placed around someone’s home, and they can be monitored from a mobile device anywhere in the nation. As an engineer in the Society, how can aging technology work to your advantage?
Leveraging technology in the geriatric care industry:
- Covered by Insurance - The issue with most current aging technology is affordability. Designing technology that can be covered by one’s health insurance is a huge advantage that will increase the amount of customers one has.
- Technology that addresses a specific disease or disability - One of the reasons people assume that seniors cannot handle new technology is because they believe their health prohibits from doing so. Can you think of a disability that can prevent someone from using today’s technology? what can be developed to address this disability?
- Personalization - Seniors lives vary from one another, regardless if they live in the same resident home, or have the same disabilities. Some elders have family to take care of them, and some do not. Using technology to address the individual needs of a senior can make a product extremely marketable.
- Safety - LifeAlert is known for their eccentric and visual commercials, with the popular phrase “Help. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Safety is a serious issue in the geriatric care community. Technology geared towards providing a safe environment for seniors, especially those living independently, is much needed.
- Ability to live independently - One common issue with seniors, especially those with disabilities or poor health, is being forced to live with someone else or in a retirement home. Assistive technology has improved greatly to allow more of the older generation to live on their own, but new and innovative designs are needed to expand the options for those with more mild illnesses and disabilities.
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