Practical Technological Solutions to Support Successful Aging
Abstract Background: Rapid growth of older populations has created a need to provide support and innovative care for successful aging, especially for the many seniors who want to remain in their own homes and stay engaged in the community. With strained healthcare resources and a growing shortage of providers and caregivers, technological resources may become more critical for supporting older adults, social connectedness, and healthy aging later in life. Purpose: The primary purpose of this commentary supported by a streamlined review of literature is to explore practical technological options to support successful aging among older adults. In this effort, we will suggest opportunities that may hold promise for older adults with varying needs and preferences. Methods: Our primary interest was in specific categories of evidence-based technology that could be feasibly used with older adults. Thus we conducted a targeted review of relevant literature, rather than a broad systematic review of all technology topics, to meet our primary purpose in supporting this commentary. An online search was utilized to identify publications relevant to this purpose. Results: Older adults are increasingly adopting technology although with prevalence and type of use varying by several characteristics. Younger, higher income, and higher educated seniors as well as those without disabilities are most likely to use common technologies, especially smart phones, internet/ broadband connections, and social media. Newer innovative options such as smart watches, interactive home devices, and medical alert systems are also growing in popularity. However, unique challenges to widespread adoption exist, including cost concerns, training, accessibility, usability, design challenges, and privacy. Conclusion: Research is developing, yet common technologies appear to hold promise for supporting successful aging. Consideration of the individual needs, preferences, and characteristics of seniors may help identify the most practical options for specific segments. However, unique challenges of technology adoption need to be addressed.