The New Mobile Age:

How Technology Will Extend the Healthspan and Optimize the Lifespan

Digital technologies can be leveraged to transform healthcare from traditional to connected. We have added 25 years to our lifespan, but done little to improve our healthspan. Let The New Mobile Age guide you with its clear vision of the next healthcare revolution—to enable individuals to remain vital, engaged and independent through their later years, and create a better healthcare system for everyone.

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The New Mobile Age: How Technology Will Extend the Healthspan and Optimize the Lifespan

Aging Baby Boomers want control of their health and want to grow old on their own terms. Digital technologies are creating a new kind of old, enabling individuals to remain vital, engaged and independent through their later years. But it has to be the right technology, designed for an aging population, not just what technologists and app developers think people want. Social robots, artificial intelligence, vocal biomarkers and facial decoding will analyze emotion, anticipate health problems, improve quality of life and enable better relationships with healthcare providers. It’s also about using data to better understand the ‘soft science’ of wellbeing and address the neglected crisis of caregiving. It’s a business model but, more so, it’s a new way of life. The New Mobile Age will explore what needs to be done in order to achieve healthy longevity, at a time when digital and connected health solutions are needed more than ever to stem this ‘Silver Tsunami.’ Health tech innovations will not just improve healthcare for older adults, but will create a better and more responsive healthcare system for everyone.

The Foreword, written by Charlotte Yeh, MD, Chief Medical Officer of AARP Services, provides her unique perspective, insights and experience in redefining how we think about aging, and the relationship between social engagement and health. She is a longtime champion for the role of technology in health and her knowledge is incorporated throughout the book.

EXCERPTS FROM THE NEW MOBILE AGE

 

The aging of our population is a worldwide phenomenon. Low birth rates and a longer lifespan are causing a global demographic shift—people almost everywhere are living longer than ever. The pace of population aging may vary from country to country, but according to the World Health Organization by 2020, for the first time in recorded history, the number of people on earth aged 65 plus will outnumber children younger than 5 years. By 2050, the number of people 65 plus is expected to triple to 1.5 billion, representing 16% of the world’s population.

The fact is, we are not at all prepared to address the implications of caring for an aging population that will soon be twice the size of a younger demographic, both in the United States and around the world. We are still, in large part, floundering, trying to quickly cobble together policies and services to meet the needs of the diverse and growing older population.

The demographic shift from young to old poses a once-in-a-millennium opportunity for smart entrepreneurs, investors, startups and existing companies to design the next generation of tools that enable older adults to live fully and well throughout their extended lifespan.

Older consumers are fueling the sizzling hot global “anti-aging” market, which, according to Research and Markets, will reach $300 billion by 2020, much of that driven by baby boomers seeking new ways to look and feel young. I’d like to add an important caveat. The “new old” are not interested in clunky, big-number phones or tools designed specifically for “old people.” They want what everybody else wants: sleek and attractive looking tools that don’t scream “I’m old.” But they also require devices that are well-designed for aging adults and that are effective and “seamless,” requiring little fuss or bother.

Smartphone ownership is the one area where older people are falling behind: owning a smartphone drops off at age 65. As of 2016, 27% of people over 65 owned one—that figure represents an 8% increase since 2014. In contrast, 85% of 18- to 25-year-olds own a smartphone. Since so many health devices and apps are linked to smartphones, it limits their use among the older age group. This is a shame and we need to do something about it. From the perspective of mobile providers and communications companies, the aging population represents a potential and large new market. Maybe it’s time to get over “ageism” and design some products that appeal to this generation—and that includes better smartphones!

Despite significant progress—especially among baby boomers—there is still a demonstrable age gap within the older population itself in how these technologies are being used to improve health. The people who could benefit the most from connected health technologies—the oldest and sickest among us—are not yet using them. I would argue that the reason these technologies have not gained traction among many older adults is not the fault of consumers, but rather can be attributed to poorly designed devices that fail to meet the needs of the market.

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