Technology Findings from AARP’s “2024 Tech Trends and Adults 50+”

Seniors are increasingly recognizing the role that technology can play in enabling a healthy life and improving well-being. A recent AARP study, titled “2024 Tech Trends and Adults 50+,” offers a wealth of findings about how seniors are harnessing the power of technology and innovation in their lives.

The results of the AARP study came from an online survey of 3,229 U.S. adults, conducted in September and October 2023. One important finding was that seniors are now just as likely as those under age 50 to own a smartphone, tablet, or other device, which is significant for a group that may have been more reluctant to adopt emerging technology in the past.

Findings from the AARP Study

For those who are 50-plus, adopting smart technology has promoted a sense of autonomy, increased security, and comprehensive safety. Most seniors realize this and that is likely why they are welcoming new technology into their lives and their homes. In fact, 99 percent of seniors currently own at least one of these devices: smartphones, wearables, tablets, home assistants, smart home devices and/or smart TVs. Some additional findings from the AARP study are as follows:

  • Strengthening connections: 79 percent of seniors use technology to strengthen connections with friends and family.
  • Aging-in-place: For older adults with health issues and their caregivers, technological devices and digital services can be beneficial, if used to their full potential.
    • While 69 percent of adults 50-plus have one or more chronic or serious health conditions, only 13 percent are currently taking advantage of technology to manage their condition.
    • About one-fifth are aware of and interested in using technology; while less than half (42 percent) are aware of technologies but are not interested.
  • Caregivers using technology: Caregivers can also benefit greatly from technology. AARP found that 54 percent of caregivers use medical digital services, 25 percent are engaging with health and fitness tracking for themselves, 15 percent use telemedicine, and 11 percent take advantage of digital mental health and wellness services.
  • Acceptance of artificial intelligence (AI) technology: 85 percent of Americans ages 50+ have heard of generative AI.
    • 31 percent are excited about the benefits;
    • 11 percent think it could enhance their digital safety;
    • 60 percent of respondents say they are undecided about its impact;
    • Only 9 percent report using generative AI;
    • AARP notes that hesitancy could be linked to concern about online scams.
  • Use of streaming services is on the rise. Streaming among the 50-plus population has climbed from 64 percent in 2019 to 86 percent in 2023, with those over age 70 showing the highest increase. In the same period, cable viewership plummeted from 58 percent to 32 percent for older Americans.
    • Netflix (62 percent) and Amazon Prime Video (61 percent) are the most popular streaming platforms.
  • Social media use remains consistent with prior years. Most older Americans (70 percent) like Facebook, and 51 percent frequent YouTube, while WhatsApp expanded its audience with a jump in usage from 16 percent in 2022 to 20 percent in 2023.
  • Not all seniors use technology: Those not using technology don’t use it because they perceive it as not necessary (20 percent); expensive (13 percent); believe there are simpler tools available (12 percent); don’t trust the technology (11 percent), or feel that it’s too complicated or they’re not tech savvy enough (5 percent).

What are Some Notable New Technological Advances for Seniors?

Technology designed to help seniors live longer, better, more comfortable, and independent lives continues to be developed, with many more on the horizon. Below are three of the areas that the seniors surveyed see as most important and some recent technological innovations in each category. Please note, as always, that we do not accept affiliate links or earn commissions for products offered in any of the links provided below; these links are provided purely for your educational purposes.

Security and safety were mentioned as most important by 33 percent of respondents to the AARP survey.

Health and comfort are also imperative for maintaining quality of life and aging-in-place comfortably.

  • Digital steam shower systems and intelligent toilets with bidet functionality provide added health benefits for those of all ages, while the voice control aspect or presets provide the added benefit of ease of use for the 50-plus community
  • Smart hearing aids are popular for those with hearing loss, including a range of solar-charged hearing aids, AI-enabled hearing aids with fall detection, and smartphone adjustable sound.
  • Telehealth services will remain to replace or supplement in person visits likely throughout 2024, and possibly beyond. Online platforms such as GoodRX Care and Doctor-on-Demand have made chatting with healthcare professionals easier, no matter where we are. These platforms allow video consultations, prescription refills, and virtual therapy sessions. Many, if not most, private doctors also offer tele-visits via various online platforms.
  • Researchers from Dartmouth have developed the first smartphone app that merges AI and facial-image processing software to reliably detect the onset of depression. In addition, Headspace is one of the most popular meditation apps available, mostly because of how much content it provides. Headspace offers soundscapes, focus music, workouts, and bedtime stories to help adults drift off to sleep. Veterans can also access these apps to deal with symptoms of depression.
  • Medisafe is a top-ranked medication reminder app.

Mental Fitness is important to stimulate parts of the brain, which can be achieved through games and other challenging, engaging activities. In fact, research suggests that technology can improve prospective memory, and help older adults with mild cognitive impairment continue their daily activities.

  • Freestyle+ uses game play to help individuals build mental fitness.
  • Virtual reality for cognitive engagement has proven to be an effective tool for cognitive engagement and rehabilitation, particularly in older adults, according to a Stanford University study. VR applications, such as brain training games and virtual reality therapy, can help improve cognitive function and memory. Mynd Immersive, for example, is improving the quality of life for older adults. Some VR applications are specifically designed to help older adults with conditions such as dementia. Others offer immersive experiences to transport users to different environments (or memories), promoting relaxation and stress reduction.

Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic when it comes to emerging technology, and we recently covered some of the current applications of it on our blog. For more details on AI for seniors, please see my recent articles on the subject here. For additional examples of helpful senior technology, please see my many articles on the subject. Hopefully, all of the technology that is available or on the horizon will be helpful for seniors who are aging-in-place and their loved ones and caregivers.

When Technology is Not Enough to Make Aging-in-Place the Best Option for a Loved One

Most people want to stay in their home for as long as possible, and the technology described above will certainly prove helpful. However, if despite the technology that is available, you or a loved one cannot live independently, it may be time to consider other alternatives.

Whether the outcome is in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care in the future, it is always wise to plan ahead. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with receiving nursing home level care at home, or going into assisted living or nursing home care, while helping ensure that you and your loved ones get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Please contact us whenever you’re ready to make an appointment for an initial consultation:

Elder Care Attorney Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Elder Care Attorney Fredericksburg: 540-479-1435
Elder Care Attorney Maryland: 301-519-8041
Elder Care Attorney DC: 202-587-2797

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

Leave a comment

Thank you for your upload