Over the past decade, technology has evolved at an astonishing rate, from SpaceX’s recent successful rocket launch to Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality glasses, and it seems like every day there’s a technological breakthrough happening. At the same time, another significant change is taking place, and that is the increasing aging of the population. This is changing the dynamics of many societies, with Japan, China and South Korea leading the way and the US not far behind. In fact, about 10,000 Americans reach the age of 65 every day. (Rand,2021)
We are at the beginning of a new era: an unprecedented shift in global population ageing, with the number of people over 60 set to rise by 1.2bn over the next 40 years. By 2034, for the first time in U.S. history, there will be more seniors than children under 18. (Rand,2021) While many older adults will remain healthy enough to enjoy a longer life span, this demographic shift poses serious challenges to the health care system, especially with a significant increase in the number of older adults with chronic diseases and dementia. But serious challenges can bring serious opportunities. (Reichman, 2022)
The COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on the senior lifestyle industry, for better or worse. As the New Year begins, some industry experts share trends and predictions for the future. Technology could change the competitive landscape in retirement/life planning communities and other long-term care Settings, according to a survey of aging trends by CLA, a professional services firm (BONVISSUTO,2022) THE COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight the importance of technology in older life in an industry that has never appreciated the full power and potential of enterprise, K4Connect said. The changes many residents and communities make to their daily lives during the pandemic could be permanent, the company said. K4Connect Chief Growth Officer Keith Stewart predicts that more of the tech industry will invest in aging services that serve the elderly, including large device makers, B2C electronics providers, and health/lifestyle companies (BONVISSUTO, 2022).
The pandemic is a catalyst for the adoption of digital health, including in aged care. During the lockdown, older people used video phones to communicate with their families, and telemedicine allowed them to meet doctors at home. Today’s seniors are more tech-savvy than in the past, which could affect how they interact with health care in the future. From using virtual care technology in the comfort of home, to demanding more technology in independent living communities, and being more actively involved with their own health data, older adults will rely more than ever in the coming year on technology to enhance their health care (Scott,2021).
Here are three trends in eldercare in 2022:
1. Home hospitals are a growing trend in health care due to the increasing use of virtual care technologies that allow care of older persons with acute illnesses at home. A 2018 AARP survey found that 76 percent of adults who are 50 and older prefer to stay in their homes and communities and age in place rather than move to a separate living community. According to the American Hospital Association, the home care model in hospitals has been proven to reduce costs, improve outcomes, and enhance the patient experience. Traditional healthcare organizations play an important role in this model of care delivery, using telemedicine and remote patient monitoring to extend care into the home environment. (Scott,2021)
2. Ownership and use of technology among older adults had increased during the pandemic, with nearly half of respondents to the AARP survey saying they are using video chat more than before. With increasing use of texting, email, smartphones and wearable devices, older adults are using more technology than ever before, and that’s likely to continue. However, the increased use of technology may place an additional burden on staff at independent living facilities, who may be relied upon to solve problems. To that end, many institutions have created the role of technical concierge to help seniors with technical problems and install new equipment. As staffing shortages continue into 2022, many eldercare centers will need to turn to solutions such as technical concierge to meet the technical needs of seniors. (Scott,2021)
3. Another impact of consumerization on aged care is that older people are becoming more comfortable with technology and joining selection committees in independent living communities to decide which technologies will be available to the community. Moving into 2022, the desire for consumerization and personalization is expected to influence the types of technologies older adults prefer and those offered by independent living communities, as well as the way older adults interact with digital health solutions. (Scott,2021)
Despite the challenges, designing products for an ageing population is a worthwhile investment and a social responsibility in a post-pandemic world. They represent our past, present, and future. They are also a valuable consumer group. Life after retirement takes on new meaning, with fun, longevity, and endless opportunities to make a significant contribution to society (Rand,2021).
Kyle Rand, (June 1, 2021), “Why Post-Pandemic Innovations Must Focus On Seniors”, Retrieved June 5th , from, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/06/01/why-post-pandemic-innovations-must-focus-on-seniors/?sh=2a585ca43490
William Reichman,(2022), “ Creating a culture of innovation in senior health care”, Retrieved June 5th , from, https://hospitalnews.com/creating-a-culture-of-innovation-in-senior-health-care/
KIMBERLY BONVISSUTO,( January 6, 2022), “Tech, labor, wellness, business concerns factor into senior living industry trends, predictions for 2022”, Retrieved June 6th , from, https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/news/tech-labor-wellness-business-concerns-factor-into-senior-living-industry-trends-predictions-for-2022/
Jordan Scott,( December 14, 2021), “ 3 Senior Care Tech Trends to Watch in 2022”, Retrieved June 6th ,from, https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2021/12/3-senior-care-tech-trends-watch-2022