Seniors and Technology — More tech-savvy than we think?

Seniors and Technology — More tech-savvy than we think?

Posted by Jason Bennett on Sep 11, 2018 10:48:00 AM


Aging with Technology

You’ve probably heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” countless times, right? But is that true? I don’t think so, not when it comes to older adults and technology, and research supports this thinking.

Many people in their 70s, 80s and 90s are using or want to use technology, simply because they know it can improve their lives. They are also no stranger to innovation — after all, they grew up with advancements in technology in everything from air travel, to cars, to home appliances.

More seniors going digital

The truth is that many older adults already have adopted digital technology. For instance, about 4 in 10 now own smartphones — more than double the share that did so in 2013 — according to the Pew Research Center’s 2017 “Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults” article. Certain groups, especially those who are under 75 and are more affluent and educated, own and use technologies at rates similar to younger adults. About a quarter play online video games, use chat functions and communicate with family members; all things considered by some to be pastimes of the young, (Pew Research Center survey results, 2015).

Some older adults are so passionate about technology they participate in online and in-person communities that talk about and test senior tech gadgets. For instance, members of Longevity Explorers brainstorm how smarthomes and robots could serve older adults better.

Help maneuvering online

Still, not every older adult is ready to look technology squarely in the eye. According to the Pew Research Center, more than one-third of seniors have little to no confidence in their ability to perform online tasks, while nearly half usually need someone else to help them out.

One solution could be introducing courses, like the ones offered by Older Adults Technology Services, that help seniors navigate through the digital world. However, stepping in to offer digital support to your senior loved ones yourself is probably the route that will give them the confidence they need to succeed. Check out this 2014 article “10 Ways to Help Older People Use the Internet” for tips.

There is a huge stereotype that seniors and tech just don’t mix, and it’s perpetuated by a lot of unfortunate technologies — Kyle Rand

Why design matters


Design matters! The adoption rate by seniors will shoot up even higher if senior tech providers put more thought into the design of their products, many of which are difficult and counterintuitive. Rendever co-founder Kyle Rand puts it well: “There is a huge stereotype that seniors and tech just don’t mix, and it’s perpetuated by a lot of unfortunate technologies,” (reported in MobiHealthNews’ 2017 article “With Careful Design, Seniors Can Find Solace in New Tech”). For instance, many designers don’t account for the physical challenges older adults often face, like declining vision or dexterity.

Quoted in Julia Scott’s 2017 article, “Preventing Seniors From Falling is Going to Be a Huge Market,” Richard Caro of Longevity Explorers says most apps and gadgets are “basically designed with some 20-year-old audience in mind, not an 80-year-old audience.”

Families in an aging and connected society

We live in a fast-paced society that increasingly stays connected with loved ones through technology, even more so for family caregivers who look to technology for help as they juggle personal and professional lives with providing care and support to their aging loved ones. Having means to remotely keep tabs on loved a one’s health, orchestrate services, and reach out for help or share information is essential for peace of mind. However, many of us face challenges in not only convincing our aging loved ones to adopt technology, but the technology itself is cumbersome, fragmented, and requires a piecemeal of apps and gadgets.

A call to action

Unna Insider

As caregivers, who also happen to be technologists, among other things, we decided to lend a hand to the millions of caregivers who look to technology for assistance, but are disappointed in the complex and fragmented products in the market today. This is why we’re developing Unna, the comprehensive connected care platform for families in an aging society. You can help shape the next-generation of caregiving through technology by subscribing to the Unna Insider program, downloading our app, and letting us know what you think. We thank you in advance.

Topics: Insider, caregivers, HealthTech, Health Technology, caregiving

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