How technology changes the landscape for seniors who prefer to age in place
By Ana Jones - Founder, Phlex65
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) estimates that about one-fifth of Americans over the age of 65 live in a home that is not their primary residence. In other words, more than 20 million people over the age of 65 reside in a place other than their own home. Many seniors prefer to “age in place” or to remain in their homes as they grow older, rather than moving into senior housing or assisted living facilities.
We all know that getting older means having different healthcare needs. Aging in place is increasingly common as this generation of Baby Boomers takes control of its future and embraces technology to stay independent at home longer.
What does “aging in place” mean?
Aging in place is a concept that describes a person’s decision to remain in their current home as they age. It is often a considered decision, and people who choose to stay in their current residence rather than moving to a different housing location may benefit from some modifications that allow them to age in their own home safely and comfortably.
Aging in place can happen later in life, such as when a person with a disability or chronic illness decides to stay in the home that they’ve lived in for decades rather than moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility. This can be a positive, cost-saving decision, but it also comes with unique challenges, such as finding appropriate medical care and access to supplies and services from home.
How will healthcare change for the aging population?
In the future, we may see an aging population who are more tech savvy and comfortable with technology than ever before. Imagine being able to connect with medical care providers through a wearable device, or even your refrigerator, or your bedside table. We may see the aging population embrace telehealth more than ever before, to remain in their homes as they age. - We may see more individuals choosing to age in place and remaining in their own homes as they get older. There are many benefits to aging in place, such as less stress on the healthcare system, less isolation, and lower costs than assisted living or nursing home care. We may see more individuals living with chronic illnesses or disabilities who decide to age in place. This could be a positive, cost-saving decision, but it also comes with unique challenges like finding appropriate medical care and accessing supplies and services from home.
Why is healthcare technology important for seniors?
There are many reasons why healthcare technology is important, but we’ve identified three. First and foremost, seniors have more diverse healthcare needs than ever before due to changing demographics. The population of those over the age of 65 is growing, and with it, the number of individuals with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities. Technology can help bridge the gap between patients and providers — from delivering remote care, to monitoring and tracking medications, tracking health data, and even improving access to non-medical services like transportation. Healthcare technology can also help seniors remain in their homes longer, which is increasingly important as the population ages, and seniors remain healthy, active, and engaged in their communities for longer.
Accessibility and safety technology
New technologies are helping to make our world more accessible and safe for seniors. There are many different kinds of assistive technologies that can help people with disabilities or chronic illnesses live independently in their own homes. Devices like voice-enabled smart appliances can help seniors with visual and physical impairments manage home devices like lights, appliances, security systems, and more. - Healthcare devices can also help seniors manage their health, including medication and symptom tracking apps, glucose monitors, and more. Wearable technology can also help seniors with dementia or those who are visually impaired. There are technologies like wearable rings that can have medical information on them, like medical conditions, blood type, allergies, and medications.
Health tracking tools
Health tracking tools can help individuals manage their health, nutrition, and fitness goals, which can be especially important for seniors. Many of these tools can be accessed through computer or smartphone apps, and some are even wearable trackers. Weight trackers and other apps and tools can help seniors track nutrition goals and manage chronic conditions like diabetes. Fitness trackers and tools like the FitBit can help seniors track their activity and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and heart conditions. Other tools can help track sleep patterns, blood pressure, and other chronic conditions.
Adequate lighting and home automation tools
Senior-oriented automation tools can help seniors save energy and money as well as increase safety and comfort at home. These tools can also help seniors remain independent as they age. Lighting automation tools can help seniors save on energy costs while improving lighting quality. Smart thermostat tools can help seniors manage their energy by keeping the temperature comfortable. Access control systems can help protect seniors and their property.
There are many ways that aging in place will change healthcare and technology. Aging in place is not a new concept, but we may see more individuals who decide to stay in their homes as they age. This could be positive, as it could reduce the stress on the healthcare system, but it also comes with unique challenges like finding appropriate medical care and accessing supplies and services from home. There are many changes we can expect to see as the population ages and individuals decide to age in place. As such, aging in place will change healthcare and technology.