Engaging older adults in their healthcare can be challenging, particularly when engagement means adopting technology that feels foreign. With 76% of older adults in the U.S. intending to stay in their homes, according to AARP, tech services can have a huge impact on their independence and safety. However, technology alone can make this choice seem daunting.
With a high-tech, high-touch approach, pairing technology innovation with more traditional approaches like social work, maximum engagement, and improved health outcomes can be achieved. The key to making this partnership truly effective is removing the barriers to acceptance.
Misconceptions associated with healthcare technology
Older adults must understand the true value of health and safety technology solutions to encourage adoption, but there are misconceptions to overcome first.
- Using health tech makes me old. When older adults think of health technology like an emergency button, they’re likely to think they are only useful if you have a medical emergency such as a heart attack or a fall. This assumption is a major obstacle when it comes to adoption, particularly if older adults don’t feel they are old enough to really be at risk for a health emergency.
One way to transcend this “health tech is for old people” stigma is to instate a “press for anything” philosophy. Technology providers, healthcare providers, and even friends and family need to remind older adults that technology is not just for the frail. Medical alerts, for instance, are not just an emergency button, but part of an easy approach to safety, independence, connection to community, and resources available, developing a social support system for users.
- Technology is only helpful in an emergency. Technology has the power to grant access to a broad range of resources, not just if a fall or other emergency occurs. For instance, technology can address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) through offering access to clinical/medical consultation, community resources, education on chronic disease management as well as access to transportation (including ride-sharing services), assistance with utilities and financial services, mental health and emotional support, and more.