Today’s seniors are rapidly becoming tech-enabled, and some are calling the expanding senior technology market “silver tech.”
With the rapid embrace and interactions seniors are having with technology during the coronavirus pandemic, seniors are adapting how they manage their healthcare and are quickly becoming tech enabled to stay on top of their physical and emotional health. We underestimate seniors when we think of them as technophobes who don’t see how quickly the world is changing. Instead, we should check our preconceived notions against the reality of who modern seniors really are, we may be delighted and surprised!
Today’s seniors have seen remarkable change during their lifetimes and because of that, they are well suited to embrace technological advancements. In a recent survey, 34% of seniors cut the cable cord, 89% own a smart phone, and 47% admit to binge watching their favorite shows.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly painful for our vulnerable seniors and technology is coming to their aid. While extreme social distancing protects our seniors from contracting COVID-19, it has left many feeling isolated and depressed. Instead of allowing the isolation to become overwhelming, many have shown the grit that we know them for; they decided to use the time to learn how to video chat with their grandchildren, and some have purchased new devices specifically for that purpose.
My parents are a prime example; they live in a retirement community and most of their neighbors returned to their home states to be near family, leaving the community desolate. After stocking up on soup, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, my parents hunkered down to wait out the pandemic. But it quickly became boring, so my 78-year-old mother ordered an iPad online and taught herself how to use it so she could video chat with our 3 and 4-year-old daughters. It is a joy to see them talking and laughing again.
The healthcare industry is also embracing technology and adapting to accommodate seniors during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Since expanding Medicare’s coverage of telemedicine services, doctor’s offices have rapidly shifted to using telemedicine for routine matters, which allows seniors to receive care from the safety and comfort of their homes. In addition to telemedicine, seniors are ordering their prescription medications online for cost effective, timely and convenient arrival.
Wearables are nothing new to seniors, who were actually some of the first adopters of wearables. Hearing aids and emergency alert devices were the first wearables and were adopted early on by seniors. As such, wearables are not new to seniors. Not only are seniors interested in the benefits of ongoing daily monitoring, they’re also interested in wearables with emergency alerts and that give seniors reminders to take their medications.
With all of these advances in technology that help seniors with their physical and mental health, it is also important to acknowledge senior concerns about the privacy of their information. Unlike the younger selfie generations, seniors are notoriously discrete and value their privacy. For tech to become more widely adopted among seniors, it is important that we respect their concerns by monitoring and ensuring the privacy of their data.
Seniors are using their technology to support their physical and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and "silver tech" is on the rise. Seniors love the instant connection technology gives to their children, grandchildren and friends from phone calls, texting, video chat and emails. If you want to catch her, you better call or text Grandma on her smart phone.
Jan Dubauskas is a healthcare expert, enthusiastic insurance pro, attorney and mom serving as vice president of healthinsurance.com.
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