Technology is key to the health of the elderly | Trends

Technology is key to the health of the elderly | Trends

In today's society, especially in the developed world, we live more and more years. 13% of the world population are over 60 years old; by 2050, the population of seniors will exceed 25% of the total. As a comparison, keep this fact in mind: for many centuries in the history of humanity, seniors accounted for only 4% of the global population. By the middle of this century, we will be one in four inhabitants of the planet.

The media, advertising, brands, social networks, are obsessed with the milennials as the great disruptive generation; However, old age is going to have a greater impact on many aspects of our society. Since Ipsos, we have called this sector of the population perennials.

It seems that there is consensus on the age of milennials, but when do we start being older? When do we start being perennials? There is no universal consensus, it depends on the country. According to a study conducted by Ipsos, the global average age where it is considered that old age begins is 66 years. However, if we ask young people (16-24 years old), anyone over 55 is considered older. However, for those of that age, old age does not begin until well into the 68s. But there are also differences between countries. In Spain and Latin America, old age begins at 74; As a counterpoint, we find Saudi Arabia, where one starts to be considered old at 55 years old.

All countries will face important challenges to ensure that their health and social systems are prepared to face this great demographic revolution involving perennials. Different studies indicate that technology will be the basis for achieving an optimum quality of life. Eight out of ten people over 55 think that technology will have a significant impact on their quality of life as they enter the 70s and 80s. Technology will help them feel younger and more satisfied. And there is a clear correlation between feeling younger and fuller, and feeling healthier.

Connected health developments that already emerge in our society want to respond and meet the needs of the concerns raised by the arrival of old age, which are: lose agility, stop being worthy for ourselves, dementia, loss of memory and feared loneliness: 25% of the world population identifies old age with helplessness. Let's take a tour of the different applications and systems that go in this line:

  • Smart houses. To manage your home safely using technology, with wearables and on-site sensors, which can activate an alarm if you suffer a fall, if you do not get out of bed, if the lights do not turn on or off at a certain time of day.
  • Remote medical visit: Without having to step on a hospital you can keep track of your health status and evolution.
  • Chronic disease management system when you have been discharged from the hospital: remotely, a portal is offered to manage the different social and health agents that have to take care of you, without having to go through a hospital or primary care center.
  • Robotics. A personal assistant that monitors your health, offers entertainment options, serves as support for video calls, even helps to get up to users who have difficulty doing so. And something that we should not underestimate, provides company.
  • Virtual reality. It is being applied in the treatment of some diseases, such as pain management.
  • Mobile applications that help you boost your physical and motor activity, as well as exercises to maintain your cognitive alerts.

The health industry and, specifically, connected health has to look with optimism at this stage and ensure healthy and free aging, where people can maximize their self-sufficiency. The golden age of perennials it will also be the golden age for the healthy, active and technologically connected aging industry.

Inma Rueda is country director of Ipsos Healthcare Spain


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