| December 10, 2019

How Technology Can Address the Caregiver Crisis

Steve Ewell

Last year, the world crossed a threshold for the first time: more people are now 65-years or older than five-years or younger. According to the United Nations, by 2050 one in four people living in Europe or North America could be over 65. While there is great opportunity that comes with longer lifespans, this scenario also raises several challenges including a caregiver crisis.

This year, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® and CTA Foundation released the Active Aging Perceptions and Attitudes study, which found by 2022 the U.S. market for connected solutions for seniors is expected to reach nearly $30 billion. The study shows that nearly all seniors prefer to live independently in their homes as they age, and more than 60% are ready to embrace safety, smart monitoring, health and remote care tech to help them be more self-sufficient.

One major concern raised by older adults is understanding which technologies can meet their needs. The study found younger caregivers can be effective technology advocates since they’re generally well-versed in smartphones, tablets, wearable tech and smart home products.

But we face a shrinking number of caregivers as our population ages. The U.S. Census Bureau expects there will be three and a half working age adults for every person of retirement age in 2020. As these demographic shifts occur, the large base of younger caregivers diminishes, resulting in fewer caregivers per older adult.

CTA research shows 72% of seniors would be interested in a service that provides guidance on how to implement new technology products — a clear sign that a focus on such services would resonate with seniors. Seniors’ excitement about tech is coupled with some trepidation about the installation and use of technology, and point to a need for services around implementing new technology products. But customer service programs designed for seniors and their caregivers can help mitigate these key tech challenges.

Overall, technologies that can be easily installed and maintained, or services handled by the installer and integrator community, can help manage caregiving across the reduced number of professional and family caregivers.

The CTA Foundation is the charitable organization that is linking older adults and people with disabilities with technologies on behalf of the industry. It has supported many groups highlighting technologies for older adults and people with disabilities such as the Oak Hill Smart Home on Wheels (SHOW), OATS Senior Planet Centers, Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing pilots and Easter Seals of Greater Houston’s BridgingApps programs. Many of these grantees will be attending CES 2020.