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Technology and the aging population

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We don’t tend to associate older people with the latest technology.  But it would be an error to see IT as only relevant for youth culture. As a nation, we have to accept the fact that provisioning for an aging population is one the largest challenges we face. Technological and IT advancements can, and will, play an integral part in this.

Medical care is one area that is already forging ahead. Constant advancements in care for joints, sight and hearing are obvious ways in which new technology is helping to care for the elderly. Another example are digital health developments, which allow patients with long-term conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, to be monitored from home, meaning older people keep their independence for longer.

Aside from increasing medical requirements, another major impact on the nation will be a population that can, and has to, work for longer. The number of 65-69-year olds in the UK that are still working has risen from a low of 17.8% at the beginning of 1985, to 27.6% by mid-2005 and to 32.1% in 2011. There are major opportunities, and a requirement, for technology firms to meet the needs of this group.

For example, touch screens that are adapted to work with those with poorer circulation will be necessary to allow an older generation to use smart phones and other advances. Even simple adaptations such as phones on which the frequency can be altered, to make it easier for older people to hear, can make a huge difference.

These are just the simple things, some of which are already being used. These sorts of adaptations can be seen as a burden, but there are major opportunities and advantages in helping an older population remain active and in work. It means that, as an economy, we can channel the knowledge of more experienced workers into our businesses. Companies like BMW are investing in providing for older staff members, to help them continue to contribute to the company. This can only be an advantage for all. The challenge is to make sure we do not miss out on these advantages because we haven’t invested in the right technology.

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