Closeup of woman texting on cell phone

As technology’s use in senior living continues to grow, a new study from McKinsey shows that adults 55 and over see technology not as a “nice to have,” but as a “must have.” 

McKinsey Health Institute’s new report, “Age is just a number: How older adults view healthy living,” measured the health perceptions and priorities of people aged 55 and over. One big takeaway for senior living and nursing home administrators from the report is that technology is a higher priority for those in this age cohort.

It’s hardly a surprise that more seniors are using technology as they get older. Some 42% of those 80 years old and older are using a smartphone and 25% are using a laptop, the report revealed. For nursing homes, electrical charging stations and fast WiFi will be an expectation, researchers found, meaning that nursing home administrators should continue to invest in technology offerings, observers believe.

Interestingly, the study did find reduced enthusiasm in technology among adults 80 years and older. While more than 40% of these oldest respondents said they want to use a smartphone, about one in five respondents are saying no to all technology products in their life.
The biggest barriers to technology adoption are cost and a lack of knowledge, with cost more important for younger adults and the latter more important for older adults, the research showed. Other barriers include lack of availability and trust and poor internet connections.

For nursing home and senior living operators, lower costs and more education could help the oldest respondents embrace technology, the report found. Additionally, since the 55 to 64 year old age group is invested in technology, there will be a naturally higher penetration of use among all older adults over time.

The bottom line, researchers said, is that nursing home operators or other industries “are wise to start dismantling the idea that elderly people don’t want, know how to use, or have a smartphone.”