What are the trends in aging?
1. More People, Living Longer, Living Independently
Baby boomers started turning 65 in 2011. By 2030, the number of Americans age 65 and older will double to about 71 million. In the U.S., we are also living longer. Compared to only 100 years ago, life expectancy has increased by almost 30 years.
Because we are living longer, two generations now make up the aging population. Currently, the fastest growing segment of the population is 85 and older, and by 2030, one in five Americans will be considered a senior citizen. What happens when we all live to 100?
Today, more people want to live independently, and stay in their home – the trend is called “aging in place.” But a new group of boomer seniors is bucking the trend and choosing houseboats, RVs, and even couchsurfing. Another trend for senior women is homesharing – women teaming up as “senior roommates” so staying in the home is financially feasible. In the U.S., four million women live in households where two women are at least 50 plus, and this statistic is expected to rise.
The Center for Disease Control defines “aging in place” as the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.
2. More People Living with Chronic Disease
Eighty percent of seniors have one chronic disease, and half, have two chronic conditions. By the time seniors reach the age of 85, they may have three or four chronic conditions. One area of particular concern is Alzheimer’s Disease. At current rates, the number of seniors with Alzheimer’s is projected to triple by 2050.
More Seniors, Fewer Caregivers
As the population ages, the number of available caregivers in a senior’s informal network is expected to decline from eight people to four by 2030. Divorce and nontraditional family structures will also blur lines of responsibility.
At the same time, healthcare cost cuts have shifted responsibility from the hospital and longterm care to the home. So, while more seniors are at home, their family members are spread out geographically which makes coordinating care challenging.
Home Care Technology
“The home will become a major part of our health care,” says Unity Stokes of StartUp Health.
Technology is playing an increasing role, and Vadim Cherdak, founder of eCare21.com, sees a huge opportunity for disrupting senior care. He is currently working on building technology solutions specifically for home care. He says that while hospitals have leading 21st century technology, the majority of home care is stuck in the 19th century:
“This is a huge and growing market from a business point of view, and there is very limited amount of technology really applicable to seniors.”
His plans include an affordable remote monitoring system for family caregivers that will connect all types of medical devices, sensors, and wearables.
Update: The emerging trend is the Home-as-a-Platform (HaaP).
Wearable Tech and Sensors for Seniors
Digitally savvy millennials will increasingly look to sensors and wearable tech to keep track of parents and grandparents.
We are only at the beginning of understanding how wearable technologies and sensors can improve health, including managing chronic disease for the elderly. – 20 Questions for Health IT
In “How Will Millennials Face their Parents Aging?“, Michael Humphrey says that “the image is of devices (everything from wristbands to clothes to embeds) far surpassing the wellness and health-tracking they do now.”
Goode Intelligence forecasts that by 2019 there will be 5.5 billion users of mobile and wearable biometric technology around the globe. Apple is the leading manufacturer of biometric-mobile devices, and HealthKit is said to have an “Emergency Access” feature where medical information can be shared through the “Medical ID” app. Apple has also partnered with EPIC and their MyChart app to capture physical vitals and other patient data, and make this information available to physicians via the EHR.
Sensara is a remote monitoring system and app that uses small, unobtrusive sensors to keep on eye on elderly family members and friends who live on their own.
Lively combines a safety watch and sensors for emergency response along with medication reminders and step counting.
BeClose says it takes less than 15 minutes to set up sensors to monitor a senior’s routine that can be viewed through a web dashboard. Emergency alerts are also provided via email, text message, or phone.
Keeping Seniors Connected and Social
Although we have made advances in keeping the body alive, one in eight people over 60 suffers from cognitive decline including changes in thinking and memory loss. Seniors are afraid of losing their quality of life, and the risk of attempted suicide is a real issue among people with dementia.
Keeping seniors connected and social is an important part of brain health.
Tyze enables a family to create a private network centered around a particular person, their care, and the special events in their family’s lives.
“My sister is a whole person, not a patient or a diagnosis.”
One Million Dollars to End Aging
“The Prize” is a $1 million life science competition dedicated to ending aging. Ours is one of a growing number of initiatives around the world pursuing this goal—the more shots on goal the better. Through an incentive prize, our specific aim is to nurture innovations that end aging by restoring the body’s homeostatic capacity and promoting the extension of a sustained and healthy lifespan.
Do you think technology should stop aging?
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