As age-friendly technologies emerge, experts recommend policy changes

March 20, 2014, The Gerontological Society of America

From smart phones to smart cars, both public and private entities must consider the needs of older adults in order to help them optimize the use of new technologies, according to the latest issue of Public Policy & Aging Report (PP&AR), titled "Aging and Technology: The Promise and the Paradox." A total of eight articles all from authors affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab are featured.

"Remarkable are all around us, and leaders in the business and scientific communities are keenly aware of 'the aging of America' and the potential for their efforts in this domain to do well while also doing good," states PP&AR Editor Robert B. Hudson, PhD.

Author Joseph Coughlin, PhD, speaks to both the promise and prevailing shortcomings of linking high-tech devices to the needs and interests of older Americans. As his and other articles demonstrate, there are fascinating innovations coming out of labs around the world, but there is still a shortage of consumer-ready solutions. Coughlin calls for the training of a new generation of specialists knowledgeable about both tech and aging.

"Business, government, and nonprofits must collaborate to stimulate and speed the development of a next-generation technology-enabled aging services workforce," Coughlin writes.

Chaiwoo Lee, MS, discusses some of the challenges facing both designers of smart technology and as actual or potential users of that technology. She indicates that a mix of technological, individual, and social factors is at work. Thus, potential usefulness of a device is not enough to ensure success—evidenced by the slow adaptation of the personal emergency alarm, despite the presumed assurance it would provide elders and family alike, as well as endless late-night advertising. Lee enumerates a series of factors challenging adoption, such as usability, affordability, accessibility, confidence, independence, compatibility, reliability, and trust.

Using technology safely is the focus of the discussion by Bryan Reimer, PhD, which addresses the growing sophistication of driver-assisted technologies moving in the direction of highly automated vehicles. He writes that it is critical to recognize that increased automation in cars requires more, not less driver education.

"Although automated vehicle technologies will ultimately save lives, there may be unavoidable issues, and even loss of live, on the way to full automation," Reimer states. "It is essential to begin framing the issue of automation as a long-term investment in a safer, more convenient future that will revolutionize, in particular, the experience of old age."

Explore further: New report highlights LGBT older adults' needs, identifies policy opportunities

Related Stories

New report highlights LGBT older adults' needs, identifies policy opportunities

November 16, 2011
The National Academy on an Aging Society and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) today released the first-ever issue of the acclaimed Public Policy & Aging Report (PPAR) on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ...

MIT suit puts a new wrinkle into feeling old (w/ video)

January 3, 2012
You've heard of the fat suit and the pregnancy suit; now meet AGNES - the old person suit.

Recommended for you

Study compares athlete and truck driver, identical twins

July 20, 2018
When it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle—nature or nurture—more important? Researchers at San Francisco State University, CSU Fullerton and Cal Poly, Pomona removed the nature part of the equation by studying ...

Secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries

July 20, 2018
The study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke—causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year.

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

People who tan in gyms tan more often, and more addictively, than others, new research shows

July 18, 2018
Gyms are places people go to get healthier. But nearly half the gyms in the U.S. contain a potentially addictive carcinogen—tanning beds, report UConn researchers in the July 18 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.