Will Digital Health Transform Growing Old?


 Blog by Joe Babaian

Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.  ~ Robert Browning

Recently we have been thinking about aging in place and the significant impact pepper#DigitalHealth technology is playing. The story is unfolding all around us and will include many of us as time unfolds.

In Scientific American, Catherine Caruso shared some thoughts including a telling comment from USC Roboticist Maja Matarić:


The need for socially assistive robots may arise from a shortage of human companions for the elderly, but Matarić points out that robots could also offer some benefits over their flesh-and-blood counterparts. “Machines are infinitely patient,” she explains. “They have [fewer] biases to begin with, and they have no expectations.”

Wow! This hits two major points of anxiety over growing old:

  • Will anyone be there to help us?
  • Will those helping us be kind?

We all agree that the best use of technology will leverage the tools – including robots, remote sensors, #telemedicine, transportation, health apps – while maintaining the human element as much as possible. No system will truly succeed without the human touch, but will there be room to integrate as demand skyrockets?

A word here on demand – the population is aging and a US Census research report tells us:

By 2029, when all of the baby boomers will be 65 years and over, more than 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65.

More than 1/5 of everyone in the U.S. – that is enough to give us all the motivation we need to do this right.

We find an exploding number of #DigitalHealth options for supporting the elderly and those with similar support needs. How will these new tools supplement, assist, and potentially replace our current systems in place? This is the essence of the question – the new tools are changing and growing daily – we must focus on the entire system if we are to make sense of what works and what doesn’t. Soon, we all will be facing these options.

Please join the #hcldr community of friends and peers as we work to make a difference, one idea and one action at a time. Join us on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 8:30pm Eastern (for your local time click here) as we discuss the following topics:

  • T1: How will #DigitalHealth tools become integrated into the process of aging? Examples?
  • T2: Instead of the dehumanization of care, how might #DigitalHealth create a more humane & high-touch aging process?
  • T3: Do you see us moving back to an aging in place model – will the new technologies be enough?
  • T4: Which #DigitalHealth technologies are the most essential to help the aging population be independent for longer?


Resources for Further Study

Baum, Stephanie. “Can Passive Remote Patient Monitoring Sensors Move the Cost Needle for Seniors Aging in Place?” MedCity News, June 16, 2017. http://medcitynews.com/2017/06/remote-patient-monitoring-sensors-and-aging-in-place/.

BERLYN, DEBRA. “Technology Is Becoming a Fountain of Youth for the Aging Consumer.” Text. The Hill, April 17, 2017. http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/technology/329111-technology-is-becoming-a-fountain-of-youth-for-the-aging.

Brody, Jane E. “Aging in Place.” Well, May 2, 2016. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/aging-in-place/.

Bryant, Meg. “How Technologies Can Help the Elderly Age at Home.” Healthcare Dive, February 16, 2017. http://www.healthcaredive.com/news/how-technologies-can-help-the-elderly-age-at-home/436386/.

Caruso, Catherine. “Grandma’s Little Robot.” Scientific American, May 22, 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/grandma-rsquo-s-little-robot/.

Colby, Sandra L., and Jennifer M. Ortman. “The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060,” May 2014. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2014/demo/p25-1141.html.

Comstock, Jonah. “Survey: Half of Aging in Place Seniors Believe Wearables Will Improve Home Care.” MobiHealthNews, March 2, 2017. http://www.mobihealthnews.com/content/survey-half-aging-place-seniors-believe-wearables-will-improve-home-care.

“NIH Initiative Tests in-Home Technology to Help Older Adults Age in Place.” Text. National Institute on Aging, January 25, 2017. https://www.nia.nih.gov/newsroom/features/nih-initiative-tests-home-technology-help-older-adults-age-place.

Orlov, Laurie. “Six Technologies from American Telemedicine Association (ATA) 2017 | Aging In Place Technology Watch,” April 25, 2017. https://www.ageinplacetech.com/blog/six-technologies-american-telemedicine-association-ata-2017.

WRVO. “Aging in Place with a Little Help from Technology,” June 2, 2017. http://wrvo.org/post/aging-place-little-help-technology.


Photo Credit: http://imgur.com/a/NF3Ra

One comment

  1. Assisted robots are almost already the norm in Japan. I can see it happening everywhere however there is some reward to helping your elderly parents. They raised you, so you can help them too.

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