FORBES: 4 Ingenious Technologies To Help Aging Adults Stay Connected And Engaged

[vc_row][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height=”20″][dt_fancy_title title=”FORBES: 4 Ingenious Technologies To Help Aging Adults Stay Connected And Engaged” title_align=”left” title_size=”h1″ title_color=”title”][ultimate_spacer height=”20″][vc_column_text]This article is the fourth in a series on “Tech that Unites Us,” which explores emerging technologies that help people connect on a deeper level.

Every time I get annoyed with my husband for playing chess on his phone, I remind myself that he’s actually engaging my 71-year-old father in an epic, but friendly battle online.  Through ongoing connection and affectionate trash talk, my husband and father have forged an enduring friendship that extends way beyond their screens.  And for that, I’m eternally grateful.

Although most people don’t think aging and technology go together, the truth is that generational interests are changing almost as fast as technology itself is.  Stereotypes, on the other hand, take much longer to overcome. A 2016 AARP study found that even though seniors have a high willingness to try new technologies, more than 80% of caregivers thought they would have difficulty convincing their loved one to adopt a new device or gadget. However, data is showing that once seniors are comfortable with new technology, they become avid users. For instance, even though only 30% of the Silent Generation (ages 73-90) owns a smartphone77% of these seniors are getting online multiple times a day. Connected tech offers a balm for loneliness, isolation, and limited mobility that becomes increasingly relevant with age. With the senior tech market poised to reach $42 billion by the year 2020, industry leaders would be smart to think about how tech can go beyond medical devices and extend into entertainment as well.

Another study by the Pew Research Center reveals that for many aging adults, tiny fonts and buttons are barriers to entry. However, with the aid of a family member or caregiver, these challenges can be overcome with a few setting modifications. Perhaps a bigger hurdle is demonstrating to an aging senior that there is a clear value proposition for them that warrants having to wrestle with a new device. In other words, seniors want to know what these technologies will do for them. Will this device improve their health, memory, sense of connection, quality of life, or long-term happiness? Research shows that when purpose can be demonstrated, seniors become avid users. For instance, 70% of seniors over the age of 50 now engage on social media, and 91% of those do so specifically to connect with friends and family.

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