Technology and the Longevity Economy: Integrated Applications for Aging in Place
Posted on 04/06/21
Author: JoAnn Arcenal, Business Development Manager There’s a new, virtually untapped market shaping the residential technology industry. This market includes more than 106 million people responsible for at least $7.1 trillion in annual economic (U.S) activity—a figure expected to reach well over $13.5 trillion by 2032. This is what AARP has branded the “Longevity Economy,” representing all economic activity serving the needs of Americans age 50 and over. Technology is an incredible game-changer for helping seniors remain independent, safe, and happy in their homes. The marketplace for technology that assists aging adults in the Longevity Economy is expected to grow to nearly $30 billion in the next few years, according to the Consumer Technology Association. So, what’s driving this shift? Two major factors have aligned to present this unique opportunity: tech savvy Baby Boomers entering retirement age, with ten thousand Baby Boomers turning 65 each day, and technology adoption accelerated in the time of COVID-19. Simply put, we have the opportunity to elevate the senior human experience through technology. Coupled with the principals of Universal Design, existing and emerging technologies can create an environment to maintain independence and reduce reliance on others to meet daily living needs. Many standalone gadgets have been developed for this market, such as automatic medication dispensers, and many of our existing solutions can be applied to revolutionize the aging in place experience: Access Mobility and dexterity can be issues for the 65+ population. Technology can support their personal safety and security. Why risk the dangers of a fall to see who’s at the door? Intercoms and video door stations can reduce this risk, and as part of an integrated system, touch screens can be used for this purpose. Schedules can be set to allow home care professionals entry for specific days and times without any additional bother for the homeowner. Keyless entry not only can provide access to the home without the pain and frustration of traditional keyed entry, but also eliminates the issue of lost or forgotten keys. Integrated environmental controls Yes, these systems are a staple of automated luxury, but seniors might find them to be a necessity. The convenience and efficiency of motorized lighting and shading is well understood, but the safety benefits can often be overlooked. Automated lighting and shading can discourage potential intruders by turning lights on and off, and raising and lowering shades at preset times, indicating active residents are at home. In addition, those whose mobility may be diminished can have greater peace of mind knowing they can control their lights and shades from anywhere at any time. With simplified climate control, room temperature can be adjusted without ever having to walk over to a wall mounted thermostat with dials, which is also often difficult to read for seniors. Entertainment and leisure Part of the human experience and livability is personal entertainment, which we provide through distributed audio and video. In fact, studies show that there are many cognitive benefits of musical activity for seniors. With access to multiple content sources through simplified control, people can easily enjoy visual and aural stimulation. Interface options The main benefit and purpose of smart home technology is to simplify disparate and complex devices and systems. A simplified experience is critical when catering to varying comfort levels with technology and the range of physical and cognitive abilities that typically come with age. A combination of purpose-driven control options, thoughtfully executed throughout the home, can greatly assist seniors aging in place. Touch screens Phones and tablets are personal devices, not dedicated home control devices. Our beautiful touch screens are purpose-driven and never leave the room or the house, so seniors will never be stranded without control. They’re extremely responsive, reliable, and provide a brilliant high-resolution, intuitive display that makes it easy to control everything in the home. Keypads Wall-mounted keypads give seniors the simplest way to control basic functions, such as lighting, shades, and volume. Available in a wide variety of styles, colors, button layouts, and custom engraving, keypads can conform to any personal design aesthetic and control need. Remote control Remotes provide dedicated home control in the palm of your hand. From the comfort of the couch, seniors can adjust the lights, shades, and temperature, as well as control the TV and music. Even better, incoming texts, emails, and phone calls never interrupt when they want to change the channel or mute the volume. Touchless control A popular, emerging trend is touchless control, such as voice command recognition, which provides people with mobility and dexterity issues a means of control without concern or compromise. Occupancy sensors are the ultimate in touchless control and offer enhanced safety for the resident and peace of mind for family members and caregivers. For example, hall lights can be motion activated at night, and family members can be alerted in the event of a fall. Final thoughts There are many, many more assistive technologies out there to help our aging population fulfill their daily activities and manage their homes (and lives!) independently. I hope that thinking about our current and emerging technologies in this vein can spark conversation and opportunity in the Longevity Economy. Imagine the possibilities when you merge the intelligent home with the elevated senior experience!