A recent brief from the Center for Technology and Aging argues that new mobile devices and Internet-based resources will become increasingly usable, practical, and affordable, in what the brief discusses as an era of “connected aging.” The brief summarizes technological advances in four different categories of use, as well as discussing barriers to implementing new practices in connected aging and how these barriers may be addressed.
The authors suggest that new, increasingly scalable technologies will foster social connections, access to resources, and health management for older adults who want to age in place. The first category discussed in the brief is technologies that support the health of older adults by being worn on or otherwise measuring the body, such as activity sensors, sleep monitors, and portable convenient devices to track vital signs. Home environment technologies, like in-home falls detection monitors or other environment sensors, can help older adults track and maintain a safer environment, as well as enabling remote caregiving and other distance support with minimal invasiveness. Community-based technologies can help older adults maintain ties outside of the home, such as social networking software, video conferencing technology, and online support groups. Finally, new platforms and other technical services (both formal and informal) are also being introduced to educate and support caregivers, and to streamline and organize the process of shared caregiving.
The authors argue that the costs of such technology will continue to decrease, and that these technologies will become increasingly user friendly. Likewise, they note that the older adult population is, by and large, adapting to new communication and health technologies more rapidly than many observers initially expected.
Center for Technology and Aging. The new era of connected aging: a framework for understanding technologies that support older adults aging in place. http://www.techandaging.org/ConnectedAgingFramework.pdf. April 2013.