Executive Health: Ageing Well

Hillary Clinton Health care elderly

Healthcare for elderly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Baby boomers and Generation X (Gen X) place high value on technology as they age. However, 95 percent believe today’s technology needs to be better developed to help them successfully age at home, or age in place, for as long as possible.

This came as part of the survey by Philips and the Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

While 73 percent of boomers and Gen X surveyed want to age in their own home, they believe they will have significant barriers to achieving this through the aid of technology, such as access and adoption, cost, privacy, complexity of use, product integration, and public policy.

These barriers, which need to be addressed for future generations, already have a deep impact on how seniors currently use technology today. For instance, only 18 percent of those over 65 own a smart phone and only 56 percent use the Internet.* These behaviors are echoed in the Philips/GSEI study as both Gen X and boomers feel that their aging parents (age 60+) are not utilizing technology as well as they could. Findings include:

1. 53 percent of boomers and Gen X believed it would be a good thing if their parents used technology more with 45 percent of these stating that it will help them stay better connected with friends and family.

2. Only 9 percent of those surveyed believe that their parents are savvy or extremely savvy when it comes to technology use.

3. Boomers and Gen X want their aging parents to utilize monitoring technologies, such as home health monitors (45 percent) or security systems (43 percent). However, only 17 percent are using home health monitors and 12 percent have a security system.

4. 40 percent of boomers and Gen X said their parents think technology is “too hard” to learn.

Respondents point to the fact that the time involved in learning to use a device and fixing potential problems discourages use.

“For people to live independent, fulfilling lives in their own homes and communities as they age, technology must continue to become easier to learn and use while also being better integrated with adjacent technologies, including patient care,” said Bill Novelli, distinguished professor of the practice, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, and member of the Philips Aging Well Think Tank.

The results of this study and the individual barriers were discussed in an expert roundtable at Georgetown University facilitated by Philips and GSEI in September 2013. Meeting participants included thought leaders with expertise in aging, health care, technology, and policy.

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