As the growing shortage of personnel to work in nursing homes and home care becomes more real, the new mantra of the longevity economy is that technology will be an acceptable substitute. Is there a solution that fits the needs and preferences across all our current age cohorts; Boomers, the Silent Generation and the remaining Greatest Generation? Never before in history have there been three generations over 60 alive and still kicking it. The cloak of AI wizardry is supposed to cover the needs of all seniors staying in their own homes as well as those in assisted living and skilled care. Especially for the boomer generation the beat is supposed to go on one new technology addition at a time. Listening to the patronizing approach of these entrepreneurs can become very annoying.
In my research for the week, I ran across a quote I would like to dissect. “Technology is the new assisted living,” says Lisa Cini. Cini, has been designing assisted living facilities for some 25 years. Her book is coming out this week: BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology. The book is advertised as how to save 40,000 to 120,000 dollars a year by tech-ing up instead of moving to assisted living.
It would seem she is a bit cross wise of herself as the main part of her resume is designing spaces for senior living, long-term care, and health care institutions. I guess there is only so much market for those luxury lofts with headed bidets. I am sure that the price point of these ideal senior spaces are already way off most people’s financial radar. And there is of course, a retail website that has all the usual suspects like pill organizers and amplification for the phone and basic assistive devices. The products on the website did help with my constant quest for t show me something I do not already know about. More later after I read and review the book.
So back to the question can technology well thought out and well placed keep people at home longer ? Of course. If you are more tech oriented to start with, you can grow gently into even more sophisticated devices. If you reject technology and do not want to struggle with learning it you will be at an even bigger disadvantage. If having are okay with remote doctor visits, and you do not balk at having alarms and monitoring devices and your idea of a companion is 5 lbs of fur and wiring that purrs, then you have all that to look forward to.
Something is missing here. Get older, add tech, end up being monitored by your closest concerned relation from a distance or be dependent on the kindness and reliability of a local contracted service. Eighty percent of those over 60 are actually still living in their homes now and the surveys show eighty to ninety percent are hoping to stay at home. Add to that fact the demographics pointing to more than 46% of people over the age of 75 living alone in another decade. Yes, hopefully advancing technology will help us stay connected, feel safer and not get lost in the deadly wilderness of social isolation. But we will need more than sensors that tell what is going wrong or an artificial voice to tell us to keep our appointments.
Be back next week with my review.