On May 6, the Senate Aging Committee held a hearing called “Aging in Place: Can Advances in Technology Help Seniors Live Independently?”
Both the increasing number of seniors (there are an estimated 46.3 million adults aged 65 and older in the United States) and their longer life spans (the Society of Actuaries estimates the life expectancy of a 65-year-old woman to be 88 and that of a 65-year-old man to be 86), making technology available for seniors will become a priority for society at many levels. Housing professionals should expect to see new products and initiatives in support of seniors’ ability to live independently, similar to those presented at the hearing.
Scientists at the University of Maine are designing and testing products to help seniors stay active such as the Assistive Jogger, a tricycle walker that provides seniors with balancing support while they exercise. Other products provide both fall and impact mitigation in the form of headwear and undergarments that provide hip protection. . Falls are main causes of death and hindrance for seniors who wish to live independently.
Laurie M. Orlov is the Founder of Aging in Place, a market research firm that analyzes technology that seniors can use to remain in their homes longer. Orlov’s presentation envisioned four technology categories as puzzle pieces that would interlock to successfully support and enable aging in place. These categories are:
- Communication and Engagement: devices that allow users to connect with others through email, text, video chat, etc.;
- Safety and Security: alarm systems, fall detection and mobile sensors;
- Health and Wellness: for example, apps that help monitor and access health information such as diseases and medication online; and
- Learning and Contribution: products and programs that can assist seniors in finding volunteer, work and education opportunities.
Orlov also noted the importance of asking the question, “Is your home able to age with you?” which brings up the point of housing codes that make one’s home senior citizen-friendly in a way analogous to handicap accessibility.
Given both current and future advances in technology for seniors, the committee also brought up the need for broadband internet accessibility for those in rural areas, which would help low-income seniors, as well as those without family or support systems, to find and use trusted resources.
To view the hearing or see witness testimonies visit:
By Carmen Smith