Adult children dread discussing senior living with aging parents: poll

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Total responses: 382. Source: "Outthink Aging," IBM and Consumer Technology Association Foundation
Total responses: 382. Source: "Outthink Aging," IBM and Consumer Technology Association Foundation

The most-dreaded topic of discussion that adult children have regarding their aging parents involves the older adults' perceived need for assisted living and long-term care, according to respondents to a recent poll.

Thirty-five percent of survey participants identified assisted/long-term care as the most difficult topic to talk about with their parents. That compares with conversations about dying and legal preparations, 23%; financial planning/stability, 15%; using technology, 13%; diet and exercise, 8%; and transportation/loss of car, 6%.

The survey also found that loss of memory/dementia is by far the biggest aging-related worry for the poll-takers.

IBM queried attendees at the South by Southwest conference (which it described as “youth-focused”) and at the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference as well as via the social and digital media channels of IBM and some of its advocacy partners. The company shared the results in a recently released report, “Outthink Aging,” written with the Consumer Technology Association Foundation.

SXSW “is not a place where you would expect to find aging on the agenda, or even discussed,” the authors said. IBM, however, obtained responses to three questions from more than 20% of the 1,500 visitors to the company's Cognitive Studio at the gathering, “confirming that even among a relatively young audience, aging is a subject of significant interest.”

When asked what worried them about getting older, respondents answered:

  • Loss of memory/dementia: 46.5%
  • Loss of independence: 25%
  • Acquiring physical disabilities: 16.5%
  • Regrets about life's decisions: 9%
  • Being forgotten by family: 2%
  • Being outpaced by technology: 1%

When asked what emerging technology will help manage the aging process the most, participants said:

  • Smart homes: 38%
  • Mobile patient monitoring: 19%
  • Artificial intelligence: 18%
  • Robots/robotics: 15%
  • Wearables: 9%

To read more about the report, see Collaboration key to tech fixes for aging issues: report.

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