Tech for seniors: Enhancing digital touch for the golden years

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Published: November 11, 2019 1:51:13 AM

The share of senior citizens which was around 8% in 2011 will be 20% by 2050. Therefore, we need a robust planning process and a sound support system for senior citizens.

The tech savviness and ability to pay by senior citizens is also on the rise.

The share of senior citizens which was around 8% in 2011 will be 20% by 2050. Therefore, we need a robust planning process and a sound support system for senior citizens. While the government has a significant role to play in this context to build the structures for health, finance, elderly care and social support, there are numerous avenues for digital technology intervention that should be pursued.

The need for technology intervention is not only on account of the convenience or opportunities for superior support, in several areas technology support would be the only option to cater to their needs. The costs required to be incurred in order to build the support systems would be enormous and developing nations like India would find it challenging to find such resources. This is another reason for identifying areas where smart technology interventions would mitigate the costs. For instance, sensors and artificial intelligent agents could be considered for providing higher security measures as well as advanced warnings for critical care and timely actions to avert mishap or provide medical support. Quality of life for senior citizens could substantially be improved with the help of sensors for movements and even for minimising their loneliness with applications such as Alexa.

The tech savviness and ability to pay by senior citizens is also on the rise. Senior citizens are now an attractive target segment with their own specialised needs for products and services. Travel companies, banks and real estate companies have started making specialised offerings catering to this segment. The success of health care providers like Portea could be seen in the light of the home healthcare industry in India expected to grow from $3.20 billion in 2016 to $6.21 billion by 2020. Seniority and Old in Gold are online offerings aimed at senior citizens which are seeing customer response.

We still have a long way to go to make applications and devices elder-friendly. Further, app providers come up with new updates and newer interfaces frequently which make it difficult for senior citizens to learn and adapt. Older adults are also confused with the processes and security measures being adopted by banks and when they receive instructions for their own security or messages updating their financial status they do have concerns about new technology’s potential to disrupt their privacy and the potential for invasions of personal and financial security. Therefore it is important to factor in the social and psychological impact of use of technology with the seniors and design appropriate policies for app and device providers. Building sensitivity with the society at large about the concerns of senior citizens and creating an inclusive policy framework for the use of social networks, AI and digital devices would enable them to continue to remain connected, feel secure and safe and have a better quality of life.

(The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company)

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