The tech market for seniors boasts many tools, but not all of them are user friendly. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Most seniors may have now bought into the idea that technology is essential in their lives. But that doesn’t mean the technology geared towards them is user-friendly or easy to learn. 

Senior living providers and tech developers both need to make sure innovations address useability concerns and are easily updated and integrated into existing systems, one expert stresses.

These insights come from a recently released 2024 market report courtesy of Laurie Orlov, principal analyst for the Aging and Health Technology Watch website. 

Nearly two-thirds of senior respondents to a recent AARP survey said they were comfortable with their current level of digital skills, the report noted.

“The more things change, the perception is they are unchanged,” Orlov wrote. “Comfort [with technology] diminishes with age. Devices do not seem to work with other devices in their homes. Especially for the 70% of seniors over 70, tech still appears not to be designed for them in mind.”

Technology is a growing priority for senior living operators, with a particular focus on wellness technology and sensors that can mitigate fall risk, according to the report. For the latter, sensors will continue to shift from wearables to in-room systems that are less intrusive, Orlov predicted.

That tracks with what many sensor manufacturers have said over the past few months, lauding new “box and a button” designs that capture more data but are intended not to bother residents.

The most significant ongoing trend in all technology will be the rising dominance of artificial intelligence, the report suggested. AI will continue to be embedded in more and more devices and software, Orlov said, echoing what other experts in the elderly tech market have recently told McKnight’s.

Many senior living operators are prioritizing digital literacy skills for their residents and are offering classes or partnering with educators. Senior tech literacy is also taking place at the broader community level in metro regions like Miami, where there are a lot of retirees. 

Healthcare operating systems need to do more to bolster security measures and improve identity verification, so that bad-faith actors can’t take advantage of new AI capabilities and initiate more costly scams, the tech market report said. This warning also was issued by federal legislators during a special session on AI and scams last year.

The full 2024 market report is available for download here.