The Technology of Aging in Place

Over the river and through the woods, to grandma’s house we go. Except that these days, we drive across a suspension bridge and zoom along tree-lined roads to a house that resembles not so much a storybook cottage as a modern suburban home. Technology commonly found in baby-boomers’ homes is now enabling them not just to creep on their children's Facebook profiles and leave awkward comments on their Instagram photos, but also to comfortably and functionally age in place in their own homes.

Approximately 75% of the 65+ crowd own their own homes, and practically none of them want to leave them for retirement communities, assisted living, or the popularized insanity of the retirement state of Florida. With the transition of the baby boomer generation into retirement and senior citizenry, the focus on aging in place, in arenas like medicine, business, and  government has ramped up.  There is a Senate Special Committee on Aging which holds hearings to learn about the potential of America’s aging population to stay in their homes, and they have an increasing emphasis on technology.

“Recent advances in technology are providing new options for seniors and their families that can allow them to remain at home for longer by monitoring health status, detecting emergency situations and notifying health care providers about any changes in health status,” said Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) at a hearing in May of this year.

Combined with financial tools like reverse mortgages, new innovations in technology are keeping more seniors out of nursing homes and helping them to maintain their independence longer.  This goes beyond physical concerns such as health and in to the realm of digital convenience. Six in 10 people over the age of 65 use the Internet and more than half of all seniors use Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center. The higher their annual income, the more likely seniors are to go online, with 82% having broadband internet access at home. Even when they do decide to move, they are accustomed to having advanced technology at their fingertips, and senior living communities without them are at an obvious disadvantage.

With technology changing everything from how we age to the quality of our senior years, it is important for the government and the aging population to stay on top of technology that will empower seniors into their golden years. When cars drive themselves and patients can Skype or Facetime with their doctors, it’s no stretch of the imagination for a senior seeking physical and financial independence through a combination of technology and a reverse mortgage to eventually hear, “Don’t worry. There’s an app for that.”

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