Philips and the Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business released their second study today that sheds light on the widening technology innovation gap for aging boomers. The study found most people want to live in their own homes as they get older (91 percent), but most do not plan to take the necessary steps to ensure they can maintain their desired lifestyle. In fact, while 96 percent of respondents say it’s important to be as independent as possible as they get older, only 21 percent of respondents plan to incorporate technology solutions, or to remodel and retrofit their homes in order to stay in place as they age.
Booming Boomers: Perplexing Problems
According to the U.S. Census, the number of Americans age 65 or older are estimated to grow to 83.7 million by 2050, almost double from the 43.1 million in 2012
. However, the Philips/GSEI study shows that nearly 80 percent of 60-80 year olds are not thinking about, or are not sure, whether they will upgrade or update their homes. In addition, more than one-fifth of respondents (23 percent) simply do not know where to start or what is useful to them when it comes to upgrading their homes with smart technologies.
“The projected growth of the aging population constitutes a real need to focus on preparing for the future today,” said Brent Shafer, CEO of Philips North America. “Now is the time that we need to urgently and collectively shift focus to reduce the barriers and increase education on new innovations in technology that bring peace of mind, safety, and convenience to aging seniors.”
Costly Perceptions Prevail
The top barriers to making changes to one’s home are perceived cost and disinterest, indicating a lack of value in new technologies for the home.
Familiar Technology Finds Favorability
- Nearly three in five respondents (59 percent) say they are not interested in upgrading their home
- One-third (33 percent) say upgrades are too costly
- 42 percent say upgrading in-home technology is too expensive
- One fourth (25 percent) of respondents are not interested in upgrades at all
Aging Americans are willing to invest in new technology for things that they use regularly and are most comfortable with.
- Half of respondents currently use technology to refill prescriptions. They also use it to access government services (45 percent) and connect with doctors (41 percent). 58 percent would be interested in stove tops or ovens that automatically shut off to help them live at home as they get older. Respondents also are interested in a single remote control to manage everything in the home (46 percent) and driverless cars (41 percent).
- As they age, respondents feel the three most important factors for communities are high-speed internet access (87 percent), nearby grocery stores (83 percent), and access to hospitals and medical centers (77 percent).
- The most important factors for home design features are a low-maintenance exterior (58 percent), master bedrooms and baths on the first floor (54 percent), and effective lighting throughout the house (54 percent).
“The long-term, intergenerational benefits to universal design and early technology adoption extend beyond the aging population. For example, structural and technological updates can help injured individuals of all ages move with ease,” said Bill Novelli, GSEI founder and Georgetown McDonough professor.