No age limit on tech benefits: Americans 65 and older are projected to number more than 98 million by 2060. “Technology can be a huge help in maintaining independence,” says CITRIS Health director David Lindeman.
AARP Bulletin: April 16, 2018 – June Fisher, 84, laments that she can’t negotiate the park steps on Billy Goat Hill, one of the most beautiful walks in San Francisco.
“There are no handrails on those steps,” said Fisher, a physician specializing in internal medicine and occupational health. “It’s something that I will never be able to do until they put handrails in.”
At home, she has difficulty reaching cabinets, storing belongings and cooking meals. “One of my biggest problems is reaching. I’ve shrunk a great deal, so it’s very hard for me.”
Fisher is researching technological help for the “mundane day-to-day tasks” of living.
“You should think about design for aging early on, before you age,” she said. “How can you do that if you don’t have the aged involved?”
In 2016, she helped teach a course at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on design for older adults.
The course’s lead faculty member, Dan Gillette, brought together 15 older residents and 16 undergraduate design students to create effective solutions for people as they age. “We had projects that were focused on social isolation, signage, bus stop design and transportation,” he said.
Gillette is a senior research scientist and program codirector at UC Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). The center works with researchers, more than 60 start-up companies and organizations such as AARP, seeking answers to a key question: “How can technology evolve for social good?”
Putting devices to work
David Lindeman, director of the CITRIS health initiative, regularly provides AARP with the latest information on technological advances that help older adults.
The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to double from roughly 46 million in 2016 to more than 98 million by 2060. By 2030, California’s 65-plus population will be roughly 11 million.
“You have a greater number of people aging in place,” said Lindeman, a member of the AARP California Executive Council. “Technology can be a huge help in maintaining independence, offering lifelong learning, wellness and healthy aging.”