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

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

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.