Don’t you hate those advertisements and articles that try to sell you on the virtues of technology for seniors? They always take a condescending tone as if older adults can’t possibly understand technology.
That’s not your parent. Your parent is a Fitbit-wearing, smartphone-using, Facebook-loving techie. They book travel with TripAdvisor, stay at Airbnb homes, and use Uber. They record videos with their smartphones and post them on their YouTube channel....
The Active Aging Technology Market Is Growing
People over the age of 55 are the fastest-growing group to adopt new technology, according to Pew Research Center. Pew also finds that 39 million people aged 65 and over use Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.
Consumer Technology Association (CTA) figures for 2016 show the $24.4 billion U.S. market for active aging technology already comprises 85 million people, a quarter of the nation’s population. The CTA predicts the active aging market will grow to $42.7 billion by 2020.
While older people are adopting new technology in greater numbers, only recently has technology adapted to suit older people. After all, no matter how amazing your parent is, they’re still likely to require some adaptations to use technology comfortably.
Technology Must Adapt to Older Adults
They may require larger images and type. They may refuse to use wearable technology they find ugly. They may not be able to make precise hand movements required for some devices. And their hearing may require higher volumes that smartphones and some laptops offer.
The burgeoning market—and the impact of Baby Boomer aging—is why the CTA predicts growth for senior tech in the following areas:
- Safety and smart living
- Health device and remote care
- Wellness and fitness solutions
Technology Suggestions for Active Older Adults
Although you may find it difficult to one-up your parent when it comes to new tech, the technological innovations displayed at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show may do it. Since some of these ideas won’t even be on the market until later in the year, think gifts for the person who has everything.
- Sleep Number 360 smart bed alters settings to compensate for changes in position and temperature. If your parent has cold feet, it turns on the heat at the bottom of the bed. If someone snores, it automatically raises their head.
- LG W7 featherweight 65- and 77-inch wall-mount TVs are thin, light and have better picture quality than LG’s top-of-the-line products from last year.
- Funky Bots Atomic Bands for wrists and ankles use accelerometers and an app to coach your parent to develop more graceful movement, which is sure to help prevent falls and accidents.
- Airbar for touchless MacBooks accommodates those lovers of MacBooks that heretofore didn’t have touch screens...finally.
- Polaroid Pop self-developing camera harkens back to the days of Polaroid instant camera glory and adds all the convenience of digital.
- Forget all the Boomers running around on tricycles, Honda’s self-balancing motorcycle offers all the safety benefits without the weight or the size.
- Your parent has the option of controlling smart devices at home with a gesture or their voice using the Bluemint Labs Bixi.
- For the family chef, Hello Egg will look up recipes for Mom and project step-by-step videos with instructions to make them.
- For the fisherman or -woman in the family, PowerVision PowerRay underwater drone and its add-on Fishfinder sonar can detect fish up to 131 feet away and lure them with a blue light.
- For pet-lovers, Kuri the robot nanny is a mobile security camera with smart-home control capabilities that can check on your pets when you’re not home.
- For bicyclists, LeEco smart bikes integrates a 4-inch Android touch screen for navigation, music playback and more.
- For the parent who has everything, the Furrion Elysium RV has a hot tub, helipad and automatic seat-lifting toilet.
- Haier’s SOS Connected Watch features an SOS button, which can be connected to 3 phone numbers to contact in case of emergency. It also has GPS tracking.
- The Gyenno Spoon is an incredible tool for people with hand tremors, such as those with Parkinson’s. You can also switch the fork attachment in place of the spoon.
- The ReSound LiNX2 is a smart hearing aid that connects to Apple devices. Wearers can use an app to adjust their hearing aid settings. Not only does it offer the ability to filter out wind and background noise, users can stream music and other audio through their hearing aid.
- Neofect Rapael physio glove uses an app and provides feedback to guide your parent’s rehab efforts.
- CES 2017 also featured numerous examples of electronic monitors and other aids designed for the fashion-conscious older adults.
Senior Living Technology
The benefits and popularity of technology are causing many senior living communities to increase their tech offerings. For example, Chicago’s The Admiral at the Lake offers a resident portal, tech classes (and even a resident-driven tech committee), wi-fi, a media room, a library with computer stations, and online information of interest to seniors (blog). The website also features a virtual tour.
Although The Admiral at the Lake may have more offerings than many continuing care retirement communities, technological amenities are increasingly being offered at communities for older adults.