In today’s digital age, technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace. From smartphones and social media to artificial intelligence and virtual reality, innovation has become an integral part of our daily lives. While the younger generation often takes these advancements for granted, older adults can sometimes feel overwhelmed or uncertain about how to navigate the rapidly evolving tech landscape. However, embracing new technologies has numerous benefits for mature people, allowing them to stay ahead and enhance their quality of life in various ways. In this article, marketing innovator Nancy A Shenker will explore the age-tech revolution and how individuals over 50 can harness the power of new technologies to their advantage.
A common assumption seems to be that anyone over 50 (especiallly women) is tech-challenged. That myth is, unfortunately, perpetuated by pop culture and stereotypes. The media is especially harsh in its portrayal of older women who don’t know how to turn on their phones or send texts. Hiring companies assume that a social media or content director of our age can’t possibly know how to use apps or spell SaaS (software-as-a-service).
Actually, there are plenty of possibilities out there for mature people and we can be much more than just Influencers or – as the media has dubbed us- Granfluencers.
Benefits of AI and next-generation technologies
As a woman who’s been working in the technology space since the invention of the PC in 1974, I have long been an early adapter of new technologies. I learned PowerPoint when I discovered that I would no longer have dedicated secretarial help in my corporate job. I helped oversee the creation of Mastercard’s first website. I started using social media back in 2005 when it first fell into the hands of adults.
I realize that I may still be in the minority, but I strongly believe that anyone can learn about automation at any age. In fact, I bought my own mother a tablet at 94, and I’m sure it contributed to keeping her alive, as she was then able to connect with her grandkids and great-grandkids, enjoying photos and videos in real-time, although she was aging in place.
But that’s just one tiny example of how all of us can (and should) up our tech skills, especially as Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes a reality in both work and life.
Here are seven ways next-generation technologies can benefit us as we age:
-AI has huge implications for healthcare
Whereas human physicians and researchers may spend months or even years gathering data, that process will be accelerated through modeling and automation.
-Wearable technology helps us track our health and stay active
As our body parts start to fail, tools like 3D printing and wearable technology will enable us to continue to live active lives. New teeth and even bone and organ replacements will soon be commonplace. Wearables can be used to track our heart rates, blood pressure, sleep quality, and other important measurements (and even transmit them to our healthcare providers).
-New Technologies help us beat loneliness
It’s a common feeling among people who are single, widows, or living apart from family. Social media and tools like video chatting and Google Photos enable us to stay in touch with friends or relatives, view real-time photos and videos and otherwise connect with loved ones.
-Tech opens up job opportunities
Even if you’re looking for a local job or volunteer role, having a basic understanding of automation can give you a leg up in your search. Many companies, restaurants and retailers all use technology today and being able to talk to recruiters and hiring managers about your skills can help you compete with other (potentially younger) candidates.
-Automation helps us run our lives more efficiently
Imagine if you still had to clean your floors with a broom and dustpan or take a horse to your errands. Throughout history, innovations have helped us save time, move faster, and do our jobs and errands quicker and more easily.
-A paper-free life is better for the environment
Not only does paper production have a huge negative impact on greenhouse gas emissions, but you don’t want to ultimately leave your family with files to sift through. Plus, you can live in a smaller space (and save money) if you start to “digitize” your life.
-Learning a new skill can be fun and keeps your brain agile
Feeling artistic? Try your hand at Canva, a free-to-use online graphic design tool and make some new creations. It even has an AI assistant. If you need some help with editing and proofreading, Grammarly is a great app and works like an old-school English teacher correcting your mistakes as you write. Simple video editing can also help you flex your creative muscles and lots of tools exist for budgeting, storing passwords, and other day-to-day responsibilities. Think as well about how streaming media and devices like the Amazon Echo can help you connect to many different smart home devices as well as bring entertainment on-demand, for those moments when you want to hear a favourite song or have a story read to you.
Age Tech is the Future
You may be interested to learn that a whole new field has emerged in the tech world. Known as Age Tech, it is on its way to becoming a $2 trillion industry. Developers and investors are looking for tech-powered solutions that will contribute to longevity and help the aging population live more productive and healthier lives.
In fact, CES, the Consumer Electronics Show (the Disneyland of new technologies) is featuring a section devoted to Age Tech. Innovators will follow the opportunity, so whether inventors’ motivations are fueled by necessity or profit, their contributions will ultimately lead to better, faster, and more efficient and economical lives for us all.
Don’t let fears of New technologies hold you back
Many people fear that AI will “dehumanise” us. But the reality is that humans are still behind the creation and use of machine learning and automation.
One might actually argue that the failure of many women and older adults to embrace AI is creating a very real bias. Developing the most useful technology requires ALL generations and perspectives in “training the bots.” Some seniors may simply believe that they’ve fallen too far behind in their understanding of technology, but it’s never too late to learn new skills.
Find people and websites that match your learning style and take baby steps in expanding your know-how. You’ll be more likely to learn if you choose a technology that fits with your life goals and passions. The more relevant automation is to your daily existence, the faster you’ll see its value.
Publicly ranting about how much you hate technology simply fuels some of the stereotypes of our generation as being belligerent, out-of-touch, or backwards. So, keep an open mind and commit to growing your understanding of technology.
If you’re still entrenched in the analogue world, start small and keep learning about how automation can make your life better. Already a tech user? The world is moving rapidly, so continue to read and watch as much as you can about what’s on the horizon (especially as it relates to AI and machine learning).
Many of us grew up with manual typewriters, fax machines, and rotary dial phones. Their new equivalents have made our lives simpler and easier. The balance between humanity and machine will always be a tricky one. But just because you use technology as a tool doesn’t mean you’re checking your brain and heart at the door.
Think of these tech tools as enhancements rather than replacements, and you’ll find that perfect blend of heart, brain, and microchips.
New Tech At A glance There are many different types of "age tech" available, including: Smart Home Devices Smart home devices, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, can assist with daily tasks and provide entertainment for seniors. These devices can also be connected to other smart home devices, such as smart thermostats and security systems, to make life easier and more convenient.
Brain Training Apps and Games Brain training apps and games, such as Lumosity and Elevate, can help seniors maintain cognitive function and improve memory and problem-solving skills. These apps offer a fun and engaging way for seniors to keep their minds sharp.
Telehealth Services Telehealth services, such as virtual doctor appointments and remote monitoring, can help seniors access healthcare from the comfort of their own homes. This can be especially beneficial for seniors with mobility issues or those living in rural areas with limited access to healthcare.
Wearable Technology Wearable technology, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers (like Fitbit Charge),can provide valuable insights for seniors and their caregivers. These devices can monitor heart rate, sleep patterns, and physical activity. Wearables are embedded with built-in sensors that keep track of bodily movements, provide biometric identification or assist with location tracking