Technology Adoption for an Aging Population

It’s no secret that baby boomers are coming of age and that older adults 65+ now comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population. What’s surprising is that older adults are more plugged into technology adoption than you might expect. Everyone thinks of millennials as adopters of the latest social media, but the fastest growing group of social media users is really parents of baby boomers. Older adults are looking for easy, fun ways to: stay in touch with friends and family on Facebook; share common interests on Pinterest; or remain active by joining a Nintendo Wii bowling team. According to a study by Inc. Magazine, the Internet users ages 65 and older who said they use a social networking site grew 100 percent, compared to just 13 percent by those ages 18-29.
While this is good news for marketers and social networks, it also presents interesting opportunities for the health care industry to improve the health of older adults. With 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) spent on health care, technology can help manage patient care and disease as well as provide the catalyst for older adults to remain independent.
Health care service providers, from hospitals and clinics to retirement communities, can benefit from older adults’ high-tech adoption by using technology in new and innovative ways to address their biggest issues, such as maintaining health, security, independence, engagement and a general sense of well-being, whether they are aging in place or in retirement communities.
Beyond the fun stuff, technology is being used to help monitor patient health remotely via dial-up and mobile phone, and it can actually save lives. For example, technologies that remind individuals to take their medicine at a prescribed time, monitor blood pressure remotely or even keep the mind sharp through brain fitness programs are all available today and will continue to grow as this population demographic grows.
“The marketplace for technology to assist aging adults is expected to grow sharply from $2 billion today to more than $20 billion by 2020,” according to an updated 2011 report by Laurie M. Orlov, founder of market research firm Aging in Place Technology Watch.
This presents a great opportunity for the technology industry, research institutions, health care, aging services and homecare provider organizations to create new technologies or innovative uses of existing technologies to address the specific needs of a growing senior population. It also means these organizations must rethink marketing campaigns and communications tactics, tapping new channels to reach an audience that is now spending more time, and dollars, online.
As the old adage goes, “necessity is the mother of invention,” so stay tuned for exciting new developments in this area.  

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