PCAST Series on Independence, Technology and Connection in Older Age: 4 Changes Affecting Older Americans

In March 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a Report to the President on Independence, Technology and Connection in Older Age.  The report identifies four significant changes affecting older Americans and examines how technology and the government can play a role in supporting these changes.

1.    Hearing Loss – 25% of adults between 60 and 69 years, 50%+ of adults 70-79 years, and almost 80% of those older than 80 experience hearing loss.  That’s 30 million Americans affected today!  Hearing loss is linked to other issues – increased social isolation, dementia, depression and risk of falls, and reduced ability to work, travel and be active.

2.    Loss of Social Engagement and Connectivity – As people age and become less mobile, it can be increasingly challenging to maintain social connections.  Technology has the potential to address this issue as seniors increasingly utilize the Internet, smartphones and other innovations, but adoption is uneven due to varying degrees of technical literacy as well as socio-economic barriers.

3.    Cognitive Change – As we age, cognitive decline is inevitable.  Not only can this create challenges for daily living, but it can also make older adults victims of financial fraud and exploitation.

4.    Physical Change – Like cognitive decline, our bodies physically deteriorate as we age, causing other limitations both for aging in place and maintaining our health and quality of life.

PCAST provides 12 cross-cutting recommendations for the federal government to spur technological innovation to support aging challenges in these four areas. While the private sector is already tackling these issues, there have been less obvious synergies between private sector innovations and government programs supporting technology and aging.  This series will address each of these four areas and examine PCAST’s recommendations and private sector innovations and how both stakeholders can work together to address these important issues on aging.

COMING SOON Part Two in the PCAST Series:  Innovative Technologies and Disruptive Business Models in Hearing Loss