Using Technology to Help the Elderly
Studies show that old people who stay in touch with family and friends are healthier, both mentally and physically. The Yale Medical Group explains that “People who continue to maintain close friendships and find other ways to interact socially live longer than those who become isolated” 1. On the Yale Medical Group Website, there is the following advice to elderly people: “although staying in touch in person is important, phone calls, snail mail, and e-mail can keep you connected, too—if you're not yet comfortable with computers, ask a young relative to help you.”2 The last piece of this advice will become less and less relevant over the next 20 years. As the baby boomers retire, they will be the first generation of computer literate elderly. This generation of retirees will be more likely to keep in touch with families and friends via skype, email, twitter and other online technologies than any previous generation. The opportunity:
With longer life expectancies, there will be a growing incidence of old people with hearing and sight impairments that make it difficult for them to use conventional electronic devices: Growing incidence of deafness: A study by the National Institute of Deafness in the US estimates that “17 percent (36 million) of American adults report some degree of hearing loss.”3 The incidence of deafness will likely grow with increased life expectancies: while 30 % of Americans aged 65-75 report hearing loss, this increases to 47% of Americans over the age of 75. 4 Incidence of blindness: The American Institute for the Blind recently released a Special Report on Aging and Vision Loss. Currently vision loss affects 12% of Americans aged 65 to 74 years, and 15% of Americans over 75. “…the trend is expected to continue to grow significantly as the baby boom generation continues to age. Experts predict that by 2030, rates of vision loss will double along with the country's aging population.”5...
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