Technology a hindrance in ageing at home

Philips and the Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in the US released a survey recently that found both baby boomers and Generation X (Gen X and those born from 1965 to 1976) place high value on technology as they age. However, 95 percent believe today’s technology needs to be better developed to help them successfully age at home, or age-in-place, for as long as possible.

While 73 percent of boomers and Gen X surveyed want to age in their own home, they believe they will have significant barriers to achieving this through the aid of technology, such as access and adoption, cost, privacy, complexity of use, product integration, and public policy.

These barriers, which need to be addressed for future generations, already have a deep impact on how seniors currently use technology today. For instance, only 18 percent of those over 65 own a smartphone and only 56 percent use the Internet, according to a Pew Research Center survey in 2013. These behaviours are echoed in the Philips/GSEI study as both Gen X and boomers feel that their ageing parents (age 60+) are not utilising technology as well as they could.

Findings include:

· 53 percent of boomers and Gen X believed it would be a good thing if their parents used technology more, with 45 percent of these stating that it will help them stay better connected with friends and family.

· Only nine percent of those surveyed believe that their parents are savvy or extremely savvy when it comes to technology use.

· Boomers and Gen X want their ageing parents to utilise monitoring technologies, such as home health monitors (45 percent) or security systems (43 percent). However, only 17 percent are using home health monitors and 12 percent have a security system.

· 40 percent of boomers and Gen X said their parents think technology is “too hard” to learn. Respondents point to the fact that the time involved in learning to use a device and fixing potential problems discourages use.

“For people to live independent, fulfilling lives in their own homes and communities as they age, technology must continue to become easier to learn and use, while also being better integrated with adjacent technologies, including patient care,” said Bill Novelli, distinguished professor of the practice, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, and member of the Philips Aging Well Think Tank.

The results of this study and the individual barriers were discussed in an expert roundtable at Georgetown University facilitated by Philips and GSEI in October 2013. Meeting participants included thought leaders with expertise in ageing, healthcare, technology, and policy.

Outcomes and a full report out from the roundtable meeting, as well as the full results of the study, can be found at



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