7th Apr 2016
SENIORS AND TECHNOLOGY – RESOURCES
Technology is playing a larger role in the lives of seniors, enabling them to be engaged, connected, mentally active, and physically safe. In fact, baby boomers are a part of one of the fastest growing demographics in terms of usage of social media and other technologies. It’s not surprising that the marketplace for technology for aging adults is expected to grow sharply from $2 billion today to more than $30 billion in the next few years. This enormous growth makes it increasingly important for our loved ones to keep in the high-tech loop. Below are ways in which seniors are embracing technology and where the most growth is taking place:
·Communication and engagement:
For most baby boomers, and for almost everyone in the younger generations, life is unthinkable without e-mail, chat, web surfing, Facebook, smartphones, video games, Skype, and texting. For those who aren’t as tech savvy, simplified tech such as modified tablet interfaces and easier-to-use smartphones are helping seniors be in touch and in the know. For many, training is critical – with refreshers from the carrier or company that sold the device or, even better, with assistance from grandchildren.
·Safety and security:
The ability to remain at home depends on whether the home is free from obstacles and dangers – and how risks are addressed. Thus, seniors are using mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) services and fall detection programs, and this market continues to grow. With connected light bulbs to smart locks, smart home tech is evolving rapidly, and the growth potential is massive as home automation devices become easier to use.
·Health and wellness:
The risks associated with obesity and lack of exercise only worsen with age. Online weight loss tools, such as MyFitnessPal and Weight Watchers have proven popular. For chronic disease management, tech firms like Medtronic or AliveCor offer systems for tracking diabetes and congestive heart failure, with the market for these tools expanding.
·Learning and contribution:
Seniors who want to continue learning and contributing are taking advantage of online programs and auditable courses found through sites like SeniorNet.org, Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, AARP TEK, OATS.org, and WorkReimagined, among others.
How the Federal Government Can Support Technology for Seniors With technology being integral to the lives of so many seniors, a White House advisory council known as the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is calling on the federal government to support connected health technologies and platforms for America’s aging population. This month, PCAST released the “Report to the President: Independence, Technology, and Connection in Older Age”
In compiling the report, PCAST “sought to identify technologies and policies that will maximize the independence, productivity, and engagement of Americans in their later years,” with an emphasis on “technologies important to the key areas (described in the next paragraph), rather than specific diseases and situations,” and “technologies that could have an effect broadly and in the near future.” PCAST identified three areas where aging adults experience change: social engagement and connectivity; cognitive function, and physical ability.
Recommendations from the PCAST reports are as follows:
- Federal action – The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) should create a oneyear task force to study technologies that can help America’s senior population. In addition, a standing public-private council should be formed to advise the Health and Human Services Department on “sector-wide ways to advance technology in the service of improving quality of life for older people.”
- Internet engagement – All seniors should have broadband Internet access, as set forth in a national plan developed by the Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) and HHS’ Administration for Community Living. Seniors and school-aged children should also be included in any telecommunications projects overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.
- Remote monitoring – The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) should develop guidelines for monitoring technologies that help seniors age in place, and ensure that privacy and security concerns are met and don’t hinder innovations or adoption.
- mHealth innovation – The National Institutes of Health, HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), National Science Foundation, Veterans Administration, Department of Defense, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) should support research in a wide range of new technologies and platforms, including home monitoring, robotics, advanced mobility technologies, cognitive training, and communications technology used in emergency situations.
- Emergency response – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Homeland Security should develop communications capabilities to reach isolated and vulnerable seniors in times of emergency. In addition, HHS, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should ensure that medical records are accessible “whenever and wherever a patient may appear.” Finally, FEMA, CMS and the ASPR should make sure medical device interfaces are consistent and interoperable at all times and wherever they’re needed.
- Telehealth regulation – HHS should work with the Federation of State Medical Boards and National Governors Association to ensure that telehealth providers have the right licenses to operate across state lines. CMS should also support its Innovation Center “to advance payment policies that support innovation in telehealth.”
- Smart home design – HHS should work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure accessibility standards and promote technological innovation for independent living, especially in retirement communities.
- Product design – The Consumer Product Safety Commission should work with AARP and other groups to ensure senior-friendly product development, including technology and medical supplies.
- Assistive and robotic technologies – CMS should develop new support programs to help seniors access “higher-functioning products.” In addition, the VHA, DOD, DARPA and HHS should lead the effort – and create a 10-year roadmap – to develop better wheelchairs.
Is Your Loved One Resistant to New Technology? As our country ages, the needs of older adults interested in remaining independent and at home multiply. However, what happens if your loved one is resistant to adopting new technologies?
When Aging-in-Place Technology is Not Enough: Most people want to stay in their home for as long as possible. However, if you or a loved one cannot live independently and are showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time to consider other alternatives. Whether the outcome is in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care in the future, it is always wise to work with an experienced Elder Law Attorney. Planning is critical at this stage, and is a process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with entry into assisted living or nursing home care, while also helping ensure that you and your loved ones get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Please contact us as soon as possible to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation. (866) 861-3333, (801) 676-6447.