Advances in robotics, smart homes, virtual learning will allow seniors to age in place, and enhance life quality, writes Managing Director Deborah Weinswig
Developments in robotics and smart homes are addressing the physiological, social and safety needs of seniors (defined as those 65 and older), while creative virtual-learning networks are helping them learn new things and share their own knowledge. Meanwhile, social networks are helping them find companions, thus helping to meet their social and self-esteem needs, writes Deborah Weinswig, Managing Director of Fung Global Retail & Technology.
“Although seniors are typically less likely than other age groups to use new technology, the connections it can provide are even more important for them than they are for younger people, as their mobility problems may prevent them from living an active life and interacting often with others face to face,” Weinswig notes. “Many new forms of technology can keep housebound seniors in touch: for example, smartphones and tablets allow instant connectivity between people who wish to communicate with each other, putting loved ones and friends just a phone call (or email or chat message) away.”
Numerous apps have been developed to help seniors monitor their health and get faster assistance when needed, particularly critical given the growing number of Americans with mobility issues. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2014, more than 1 in 3 seniors reported some sort of disability, comprising approximately 15.5 million people. Yet an ever-growing number wish to remain in their homes and receive care there. New technologies are being developed to assist seniors not just with mobility but also communications issues, Weinswig reports.
Robotic arms and legs are being developed to maintain mobility, while a humanoid social robot can act both as a communications assistant and companion. Applications and hardware geared toward seniors, especially touchscreen devices, can help them remain in contact with friends and family – and even can be educational tools, contributing to lifelong learning and teaching. Social networking sites specifically for seniors can help them find travel companions, activities or romantic partners.
The report identifies four types of needs for mobility-constrained seniors: physiological needs, safety and security needs, social needs and self-esteem needs. And it profiles five areas of tech that are helping to fulfill these needs for seniors: robotics, communication technology and applications, virtual learning platforms, social networks and smart-home technology.
For those with more severe health issues such as dementia, smart homes can remind seniors to take medication,notify caregivers of issues, and provide security.
“More and more seniors want to be able to age in place, to remain in their own homes as they age, even if they are not able to care for themselves,” Weinswig writes. “The opportunities to serve this group are not confined to providing care services. New technologies can play a significant role in raising the standards of everyday life for mobility-constrained seniors.”
The full report can be found HERE. This is the third report in Fung Global Retail & Technology’s “Silvers Series.” The first report focused on healthcare technology, followed by a discussion of home care. Other reports issued by Fung Global Retail & Technology include: “Wearables 2.0,” “The State of Consumers in the US and China,” and “The Silver Wave: Understanding the Aging Consumer.” Fung Global Retail & Technology’s reports and analyses can be found at www.fbicgroup.com and www.deborahweinswig.com.
About Fung Global Retail & Technology
The Fung Global Retail & Technology research team, based in New York, London and Hong Kong, is a think tank that follows emerging retail and tech trends, specializing in the ways retail and technology intersect, and building collaborative communities.
The team, led by Deborah Weinswig, former top Wall Street and retail tech analyst and startup advisor, publishes ongoing thematic and global market research on topics such as the Internet of Things, digital payments, omnichannel retail, luxury and fashion trends and disruptive technologies. More information can be found at www.fbicgroup.com.