If you’re over 60 years old, you’ve adapted to more technology changes than any previous generation. From radio to television to phones to computing, you have seen all of this technology change radically during your lifetime. As you approach your elder years, have you considered the role technology could play in your plans?
You are likely already using technology to shop, book travel, buy concert tickets, and Skype or FaceTime with your grandchildren. Those habits probably won’t change, but new opportunities are emerging daily that can change the way you will live and age. If you are one of the 99% of adults who say they want to stay in their own home as they age, this is really good news for you!
Consider transportation, for example. We love our cars; getting a driver’s license and experiencing the freedom of driving is almost a rite of passage. In the past, driving alternatives were limited to public transportation, renting a car or hailing a cab. Today this has all changed. While all of those alternatives are still available, new offerings like Zip Car, Uber, Lyft and driverless vehicles are making the ownership of a car less necessary. As we age, we have the option to leave the driving to someone else and still have the freedom to do everything we currently do.
Financial transactions and monitoring have moved to online tech platforms; you can pay your bills or monitor your investments from your phone, tablet or computer. What we call ‘Fintech’ (financial technology) is expanding to every aspect our financial lives, including financial planning for living in retirement, account monitoring for fraud and suspicious activity, and increased transparency enabled by sharing financial documents and information with other family members.
Even shopping online is evolving with the advent of ‘voice activated’ technology. What started with ‘asking Siri’ on your phone for information, directions or numbers has morphed into shopping with just your voice as Amazon’s Echo lets you ‘ask Alexa’ to create shopping lists and order just about anything you want without even a computer. Shopping and home delivery of goods and services are simply the tip of the iceberg for voice tech.
Smart home devices of all types, like Nest, are growing beyond thermostats, smoke detection and security systems, and are moving to voice commands supported by Amazon Echo and Google Home. This means you can control just about anything in your environment with a simple voice command. This is probably the most exciting technology for aging in your own home, as these devices ‘learn’ your behaviors and help manage all sorts of daily activities.
Tech analyst Laurie Orlov of Aging in Place Technology Watch shares that voice-assisted tech for older adults is really in its first year of development, and that we have much to look forward to as entrepreneurs begin to find new uses for these platforms. Both Amazon and Google send regular email to their users about new services and apps, so if you own a device, watch your inbox! If not, find a technology column in your favorite newspaper or search for a technology blogger on your favorite news site – there’s always more tech being created that can make your life as a Boomer easier.