April 23, 2012

Apps, Not Just for the Kids These Days


Smartphones, tablets, and their subsequent apps are not necessarily technologies you would associate with the more seasoned crowd, the seniors. In an era where technology is pushed more towards the younger generation, where apps are programmed for early childhood education and up, it begs the questions where are the apps for the older crew and is said crew even an adopter of these available gadgets?

Forbes highlighted this very topic in talking with Eric Dishman of Intel Health Strategy & Solutions Group. In 2004, Dishman set out to assist Alzheimer’s patients with a revolutionary technology that employed wireless sensors within a patient’s home. These then triggered reminders, whether it was calling someone, eating a meal or taking necessary medication, all of which helped Alzheimer’s patients function independently in their own homes.

Dishman says that no one is building apps for seniors, and perhaps that is part of the problem why youth are the adopters of all the technology within the mobile landscape – there isn’t anything bringing them to it.

Along with Intel, Dishman is bettering how technology can serve within the golden years. Rather than moving a fragile patient from home to hospital and so on, technology can bring the doctor and patient together in a virtual setting using video. Through their sensor network Quietcare, Intel provides a way in which seniors can live and be, all the while their information can be gathered and inform caregivers when an emergency has occurred.

It’s all a matter of people knowing this technology exists.

There are, however, groups around that do promote technology use for senior members. A simple Google search will yield available organizations on the local level that can benefit interested persons who want to integrate technology as part of their lives.

The San Diego Technology & Aging Coalition, for example, aims to promote new technologies and increase access and education on said technologies. They also advocate for better products that are catered to the senior crowd.

Relatedly, Pew Research Center took a look at social media and how it has grown with the older crowd.

The study found that between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among Internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88 percent – from 25 percent to 47 percent.

“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” explains Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report. “Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications.”

Baby Boomers are very plugged in to technology adoption, said Ray B. Williams said in a 2010 Psychology Today article “What Baby Boomers Want From Technology.”

However, it’s something that marketing initiatives have yet to reflect.





Edited by Jennifer Russell



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