The population of the United States—and even most of the developed world—is aging. It is estimated that by 2030, more than one-fifth of the population of the United States will be composed of senior citizens. To care for this aging population, the healthcare industry is exploring new technology in healthcare for senior citizens — that is, in order to provide needed services and assistance to the elderly. Indeed, very little healthcare tech has been developed specifically for seniors. However, it seems that they are ready for it.
In fact, in a recent study, it was shown that more than half of seniors go online on a regular basis. Additionally, almost half of seniors have broadband access. The number of seniors who use cell phones is also rising. In 2012, about 69 percent of seniors used smartphones. And this figure has increased to 77 percent in the last year. As expected, the younger seniors use the internet more, while the older seniors rarely do. What is significant is the buying power of those in the 50-year-old and above category. They are estimated to have almost half the economic power of the whole country. Such a case means that the current senior population is a viable market for technology—especially for healthcare, as this is a prime concern for the elderly. Nevertheless, a number of new apps have been developed for the elderly or for the care of seniors. These include monitors and vital sign readers with the ability to share feeds or data with different family members or healthcare providers and professionals.
Seniors Have Spending Power for Health Tech
For many people, their image of seniors is someone living in a nursing home with little physical activity and often with a disability. People may be close to the truth when it comes to disability, as of 2010, 40 percent of those aged 65 and above have disabilities. However, only 3.1 percent of those aged 65 and older are in nursing homes, and of the 75- to 84-year-olds, only 3.2 percent are in nursing homes. This situation means that the majority of seniors are living alone or with a family member. About 39 percent of adults are also caregivers. And 70 percent of caregivers also hold full-time jobs.
To relieve the stress and problems with home care, as well as communicating with seniors in nursing homes, there are apps which help. These apps can be used to order medicines that are then delivered to the home. Other apps relating to healthcare for senior citizens help with communications between the senior, their family, and healthcare providers at the same time. Information like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, pulse rate, etc. can be sent and shared simultaneously to family members and healthcare providers. In 2016, the funding for companies and startups making healthcare tech products increased to $2 billion—up from $425 billion in 2010.
Healthcare for Senior Citizens Is a Win!
One part of the equation which is sure to be addressed early is that of data collection. At present, there is already a large amount of data about seniors. However, in order to better understand the market, specific apps for the elderly have to collect and maintain their own big data repositories. This approach can be helpful in analyzing the health records and trends as the population gets older. The information itself, as raw data, can be very helpful for healthcare providers in offering better care and reducing costs.
Indeed, with bold actions addressing the economic opportunity in advancing healthcare for senior citizens, we will see an advantageous economic future for both the young and old, globally!