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Challenging the Myth: Seniors and Technology

Challenging the Myth: Seniors and Technology

Challenging the Myth: 
Seniors Will Embrace Technology

Each day, more than more than 10,000 adults turning 65, and by 2060, nearly one in four Americans – 98.2 million people – will be 65 or older. A sizable chunk of those older U.S. residents across the country – almost 20 million – will be at least 85 in 2060, according to U.S. Census Projections.

In the past most Americans just wanted to live to an old age. Today, aging well and staying independent is the new mantra. The common wisdom says that these seniors are tech averse and unwilling to adopt new ideas and behaviors.  We've seen something completely different.

With that shift has come an increasing focus among researchers, health care professionals and commercial brands alike on how to help older Americans age healthily and comfortably in their own homes.

At the forefront of that movement have been technology companies with innovations designed to look after older adults and improve their quality of life, with inventions ranging from a smart refrigerator that orders food from the grocery store after sensing there is not enough, to remote monitoring devices and apps that allow people to check in on their older family members.

Within the burgeoning movement to create high-tech products geared toward older Americans, there's an emphasis on health, social well-being and safety. And the nation's $3 trillion-per-year healthcare industry is closely monitoring tech innovations that could prevent falls or other accidents and alleviate health risks, particularly as the number of health care workers continues to dwindle.

Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among older Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contributing to about 27,000 deaths annually. In 2014 alone, older Americans' 29 million falls resulted in 7 million injuries and cost about $31 billion in annual Medicare costs.

Selecting the Right Wearable Device

When seniors, and those who care for them, look for wearable devices to assist with the activities of daily living, they want a device with a spectrum of functions, that can be set to their specific needs, adapt when things change as well as address the needs of multiple audiences.

A device with no stigma attached is essential. Many wearable devices designed for seniors are noticeable, obtrusive and aren’t always something users want to wear. To seniors, they can be an obvious indicator of aging. Often these devices serve a single function and offer no ability to customize to the specific needs of the user.

Users Want Seamless Technology

When considering user experience for any digital healthcare product, ease of use can’t be overlooked.  Bringing automated solutions together can create environments where solutions transcend single devices to create a meaningful impact in people’s lives.

BrightLife Services has addressed these concerns head on. For example, they recently released a smartwatch called VitalBand that monitors the wearer's heart rate, step count and can even call a designated family member if he or she falls. In addition, it includes a SOS button if immediate assistance is required. If 24/7 professional monitoring is desired, it is available for $39.95 on a month to month contract, no lengthy contract required.  

BrightLife Services recently deployed the VitalBand smartwatch at SRG Senior Living in San Diego, California. The feedback from users has been extremely positive. Currently 30 plus users at an average age of 89 have embraced the technology.