Beyond the Data: Technology and Health -- Aging Safely and More Independently

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Hi, I'm Dr. Tanja Popovich and this is Beyond the Data.

Hi, I'm Dr. Tanja Popovich and this is Beyond the Data.

Welcome. Today we're talking about aging and technology

and how technology can help adults age more safely

and more independently.With us here today is Dr. Lynda Anderson

who is the director of the CDC's healthy aging program.

Welcome, Lynda.

Thank you.

So, we have just had an interesting session about aging

and technology but I would like to take a step back and ask you,

why is having a lot of older adults a public health problem?

Well first let me describe sort of the number of older adults

that we're really going to be experiencing and many

of you have thought about sort of thinking

about the baby boom generation.

And in January of 2011 when the Baby Boomers started turning 65

we now know that there will be between nine

and ten thousand people turning 65 everyday.

And just that sheer number has huge implications for thinking

about public health in terms of service delivery and terms

of chronic disease management.

So we have talked about the technology,

can you tell us a little bit, again,

from the public health perspective what are the

challenges and what are the opportunities that we who work

in the public health arena have if we want to use some

of the new technologies and upcoming technologies

that we will have at our disposition?

So, in thinking from a public health we can think

about how do we get the technologies we have today

reaching out to older adults to really include them.

We have often been in our healthy aging program working

with aging services network

which really touches the lives of older adults.

So bringing in technology, public health,

and aging services, we can really make a difference

to really have older adults begin

to use technologies more effectively.

Do we know how receptive older adults are

to use of new technologies?

Well, we know from a recent study that about 53%

of older adults are using online types of technologies

back in 2010 and that's increasing all the time.

But that's an area that we really do need to do more work

about is to get older adults to be comfortable with technology.

So this is communication technologies.

What about other technologies to make their lives easier at home

and in the communities?

And so we do know that older adults are certainly willing

to adapt with technologies and to use them but we really have

to get over some the stigma of thinking about technologies

and perhaps even resistance to certain kinds

of home technologies,

an important area for public health.

We have heard about the "Yuck" factor. What is that?

It really means that sometimes when we have technologies

that have to be put in place to adapt for someone rather

than something that's designed more for people

to live with every day.

They might find them not as appealing as sort

of their regular home environment.

So we don't want technology to be self-centric in a way

that it looks like it's specifically designed

for one person. We want it to be appealing so that more

than one person can use it.

That it be flexible in a way for more than a grandparent

and a child that more than one person

in the family can be living in the same space

and be using assistive technologies.

Right, in fact you raise a really good point

about we want technologies that can help someone

who is 80 years old as well as help someone

who is eight years old and then families

to live more comfortably as well.

So, what would be one or two key messages that you would send

to the growing number of older adults

that we now have in our country?

What are we from the public health perspective doing

and what would you like them to know?

Well I think one thing is sort of the reaching

out to older adults and I would really recommend that they begin

to engage in using technology.

And we had mentioned sort of the personal technologies but also

to explore, let their opinions be heard about technologies,

to get involved and to learn more about technologies.

I think we can also, you know, learn and benefit

from what older adults can bring

to public health as partnerships.

So, what we need to do is we need to work

with the older adults as we develop these new technologies

and engage them as we develop them rather

than do it to them, in a way.

Yes, we want older adults

to be more engaged in the conversation.

Thank you so very much Linda!

This was Beyond the Data. Thank you very much

for being with us and see you next time.

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