Technology can be a boon to help seniors age in place – whether by managing chronic conditions through “virtual visits” or remotely monitoring daily blood pressure. Innovative new products and services allow far-off caregivers to check on a loved one at almost any time. Is mom complying with her plan of care? Is dad taking his medications on schedule each day? Is Uncle Joe cooking for himself — or forgotten to turn the stove off? Is Aunt Judy getting out of bed too often at night or perhaps fallen?
The ability to access appropriate technology can mean the difference between aging in place or aging in a nursing home.
However, there are still many older people who lack the high speed connections required for much of this promising in-home support. Over the past several months, AARP Public Policy Institute Senior Strategist Christopher Baker and I explored some of these new caregiving tools and developed policy recommendations that will ensure access to an affordable, high-speed infrastructure for everyone – and in particular, for older adults – as another means to remain in their own homes rather than be forced into institutionalized care.
A Platform for Aging in Place: The Increasing Potential of High-speed Internet Connectivity
– excerpted from AARP’s Insight on the Issues, #84, July, 2013, AARP Public Policy Institute, Washington, DC
Older adults represent the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, a trend that will have an unprecedented impact on society. High-speed Internet connectivity, often referred to as “broadband,” supports a growing array of applications and services with significant potential to help older adults live more independent and meaningful lives. In fact, the availability and use of these technologies and services may mean the difference between aging in place and aging elsewhere.
Unfortunately, many older adults do not have access to, or cannot afford, the high-speed Internet connectivity necessary to support many of the most promising aging-in-place solutions. Older adults are less likely than any other age group to have high-speed Internet access at home (See Figure 1).1 As a result, millions of older adults lack an important platform to keep pace with our evolving health care system, maintain optimal health, and age comfortably in their own homes at lower cost.