How big tech is marketing digital health to older adults

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Older adults adopt technology at a lower rate, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated older adults'  gravitation toward remote monitoring tools and voice assistants, The Markup reported Oct. 28.

Apple introduced fall detection and remote monitoring features on its Apple Watch. Amazon unveiled Alexa Smart Properties, which is designed for healthcare providers and senior living facilities to check on patients without physically entering their rooms. Google developed Nest Hub Max so older adults can connect with family members virtually.

Tech companies are developing tools for older adults because it's an untapped demographic, the baby boomer population is aging and the pandemic drives a need for families and healthcare providers to have easier access to these adults, Laurie Orlov, who leads the Aging and Health Technology Watch analyst website, said in the report.

Clara Berridge, PhD, a professor at the Seattle-based University of Washington who researches older adults and technology, told The Markup the devices have been popular because there is a lack of affordable home care infrastructure in the United States. 

"It’s not necessarily comparable service, but it’s an affordable option," she said.

Dr. Berridge also told the publication that the pandemic increased the use of voice assistants in care facilities because of "concerns around what's going on in facilities."

Even though older adults are adopting tech at accelerated rates, there are still concerns over privacy. An AARP survey found that for adults older than 50, 34 percent said one of the largest barriers to adopting new technology was privacy, The Markup reported.

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