Print Friendly and PDF

AARP: Seniors Can’t Be Left Behind in Age of Rapid Technology Deployment

Technology is advancing at a rapid, unprecedented pace. Cell phones have as much capability as desktop computers. It’s not just people connecting on the internet anymore, household appliances are being integrated with smart technology, too. There are no flying cars like in “The Jetsons,” or a time-traveling Delorean, but autonomous cars are the new reality and are being tested and deployed across the country.

Put simply, the future is here. But, as medical breakthroughs and advances simultaneously push life expectancy higher, are humans prepared for how technology will affect senior citizens?

To address this question, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) brought together a panel of top thought leaders, including former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, Michigan Health and Hospital Association Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff Nancy McKeague, AARP Michigan Associate State Director for Government Affairs Melissa Seifert, and moderator and AARP Michigan Director Paula Cunningham, to discuss how Michigan’s seniors can better engage technology to improve their lives.

It shouldn’t be a news flash for anyone, but seniors are using technology and need it for a multitude of aspects in their daily lives. According to Siefert, more than 78 percent of baby boomers are plugged in online, but a digital divide remains. Better educating and enabling seniors with technology can lead to impactful, concrete outcomes.

For example, broader adoption of telehealth and remote medicine practices could save money for both health care providers and elderly patients. New assisted living technology is allowing those who would have previously been placed in a retirement home to stay in their house for longer. Deciding when to take the car keys away from a loved one is often a difficult decision, however seniors can better retain their dignity and independence with the advent of autonomous vehicles.

Panelists said in the end, it will come down to education, knowledge, and the willingness for seniors to learn at an advanced age.