Guest Post by Maria Ramos
In 2011, the first baby boomers turned 65. Every day since then, thousands more reach retirement age. By 2050, 42% of American households will include someone over the age of 70. The recent once-every-ten-years White House Conference on Aging took place on July 13th and could not have come at a better time. In addition to an address by President Obama, the conference discussed caregiving, financial security, elder justice and introduced new and promising innovations in technology that will allow seniors and their caregivers more ease, more safety and most importantly, more independence.
Technology was front and center as the White House offered a live stream of the conference to anyone who was interested in attending but could not travel to Washington D.C. This set the tone for what an important role technology will play in the lives of those who are of retirement age. From medication management to personalized home security to 24/7 access to in-home health monitoring, technology is opening new doors for seniors and caregivers that is becoming more and more necessary as life-expectancy extends, and the gap between the generations narrows.
For instance, a new development in medication management includes pill packets that are pre-measured and personalized with instructions for each dose. For those who take, or administer multiple medications daily, it’s a great way to save on time and cut down on missed doses. In addition, there are mobile apps and other technology that monitor when a patient takes their medications, which is extremely helpful for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. Digital health services from home security systems can help alert family members or caregivers, via a mobile app, of all of their loved one’s activities — eating, bathing, sleeping, medication and whether or not they leave the house. This ensures the patient’s safety, while allowing them to stay in the comfort of their own home and maintain a certain level of independence.
Of course, costs are always a consideration, especially when it comes to senior care. President Obama addressed how Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act have assisted with the rising costs of long-term care. The White House has also called on the Department of Labor to forgo profits in the best interests of retiring employees. In addition, President Obama tasked the Department of Agriculture to grant greater accessibility to affordable nutrition and the Department of Housing to ensure that it reviews its policies on HUD access. The Department of Justice was also tasked to review the VOCA Victim Assistance Guidelines in order to make certain that the support of social and legal services to elder victims of abuse, financial exploitation, fraud, and neglect is made available.
These innovations in technology, combined with government cooperation, open up possibilities and opportunities that will benefit seniors and their caregivers for generations to come. Utilizing technology to ensure that our aging seniors can maintain their independence is the greatest way we can give back to them. It’s never too early to plan for your loved ones, or for yourself. And, as options in the public and private sectors continue to grow, our golden years couldn’t look brighter.
Maria Ramos is a writer interested in aging and technology, comic books, cycling, and horror films. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.