Technology use isn’t limited to a specific patient population or age group. Young and old alike utilize tech to manage their well-being. The healthcare industry knows that and is striving to find ways to bring IT solutions to seniors.
During an October 18 panel at the Connected Health Conference in Boston, a group of panelists discussed how technology can impact the lives of older people.
Charlotte Yeh, CMO of AARP Services, gave this piece of advice to innovators designing tech tools for the aging population: “Do not design for old — design for all.” It’s important not to presume older generations don’t know how to use technology.
Still, innovators have to keep their specific end user in mind. Yeh and David Ryan, general manager of health and life sciences in Intel’s Internet of Things Group, noted that there is segmentation in the aging technology space. Businesses have to think about the different types of people using their technology. For instance, some users may be more tech-savvy than others. And an 80-year-old and a 65-year-old might not use a tool in the same manner.
In today’s market, there are numerous intriguing tech products geared toward older adults.
Yeh mentioned there’s clothing that has sensors and is designed for individuals with hearing loss. Nora Super, director of policy and programs at Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging, said her older neighbor has a small hearing aid that allows him to talk on the phone as if it’s an earbud. While innovative, the downside to such hearing aids is that they are typically quite expensive.
No matter what the tool may be, one goal of bringing IT to the aging population is to confront issues like isolation and loneliness.
Panelist Eric Kim, a research assistant in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, stressed that it’s key to give older consumers a sense of optimism and hope when they wake up each day.
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