New Assistive-Tech Survey Spotlights Opportunity for Senior Living Operators

By Jim Nelson | May 24, 2024

A new survey that’s just been published by U.S. News & World Report looked into how seniors use assistive technologies and how they intend to use that tech to age at home, and the findings are quite interesting.

To set the scene, the number of people age 65 and older in this country has been growing at an eye-opening rate. That’s not news. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we saw roughly a million new 65-year-olds per year in the first two decades of this century.

But hold onto your hat, because those numbers are expected to shoot up dramatically in the next decade. How much is dramatic? Again, according to the folks at the U.S. Census Bureau, we could see an increase of 22 million seniors (65 and older) in the next 10 years.

For those keeping score with us at home, that was essentially a million new 65-year-olds per year in the first two decades of this century, and as many as 2.2 million new seniors per year in the next 10 years — a 120 percent increase.

The new survey of 1,500 seniors 55 and older just published by U.S. News & World Report (conducted for the news outlet by third-party survey platform Pollfish) is relative to a similar survey last March (also conducted by Pollfish). In that 2023 survey, 2,000 U.S. adults 55 and older were queried, and both surveys were designed to find out how seniors use assistive technologies in their homes, and how those surveyed intended to use that tech to help them age at home. And that’s where the data gleaned from this survey gets even more pertinent to the senior living industry.

This year’s survey found that a higher percentage of seniors 65 and older plan to age in place — reportedly defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level” — up from 93 percent a year ago to 95 percent now.

If you run a senior living company or individual community, are you already planning on how to provide in-home care for seniors in your area who would prefer not to move into your community? If not, these numbers should get your attention.

If you think about it, there are any number of reasons why a senior might gravitate toward one health-related technology. Perhaps not surprisingly, pretty much half (49 percent) of those surveyed said that it’s simply “general aging” is why they’re embracing health-related apps and gear; mobility impairments (i.e., arthritis and fibromyalgia) were listed by 28 percent of the respondents and hearing impairments (by 22 percent) came in as the next-biggest reasons for the move toward more tech.

Also of note, nearly half (47 percent) of the seniors surveyed said they don’t use assistive or health-related technologies at all, with most of them (70 percent) saying they don’t need assistance yet. Affordability (16 percent) and the desire to remain independent (14 percent) were also mentioned often.

As noted previously, a slightly higher percentage of respondents in 2024 (95 percent to 93 percent) say aging in place is important to them, the survey found that fewer seniors today believe their home is “completely or somewhat” ready for aging in place than a year ago (50 percent now vs. 59 percent then). This year’s survey showed just 14 percent believe their home is “completely” ready for aging in place (compared with 19 percent a year ago), and 20 percent say their home is “not ready” at all (up three ticks from 17 percent in 2023).

These numbers reinforce the idea that enterprising senior living operators can put themselves in position to provide in-home services to the vast number of seniors who prefer to age at home but who aren’t actually prepared to do so.

Responses in the surveys were weighted in order to reflect the current U.S. population by achieving equal distribution with known population characteristics.


Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson is the Editor at Senior Living News, an online trade publication featuring curated news and exclusive feature stories on changes, trends, and thought leaders in the senior living industry. He has been a writer and editor for 30+ years, including several years as an editor and managing editor. Jim covers the senior living sector for SeniorLivingNews.com, distributes its e-newsletter, and moderates panel discussions for the company’s HEALTHTAC events.

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