Family Matters in Caregiving and Technology Adoption
With technology revolutionizing nearly every aspect of our lives, it would seem that a variety of tech solutions, applied individually or in combination, could significantly enable healthy aging in older adults. For example, caregiver support technology exists to help manage medication, connect with service providers, coordinate communication, and more.
However, results from a 2015 study from the Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and Philips show non-professional caregivers are unintentional barriers to technology adoption and usage by older adults in their care – even though they acknowledge it can be an important way of enriching the care recipient’s life.
Among other findings, the study revealed it is not the caregiver’s lack of desire or ability that prevents them from introducing new technology to their care recipients, but rather that they are so overwhelmed with day-to-day care responsibilities that they don’t seem to have the time or patience to teach their loved one how to use technology.
While non-professional caregivers realize technology for seniors can enrich the lives of older adults in their care, many of these
caregivers are the unintentional barrier to the actual technology’s adoption.
Unintended Consequences: Caregiver May Be a Barrier to the Aging Becoming Tech Savvy
Caregivers spend an average of 66 hours per month on basic home health care activities in their role as guardians for the care recipient. Meeting basic needs for personal hygiene, food, safety, health, etc. all come before technology.
The results of the Philips/GSEI study and caregivers use of technology with care recipients were discussed in an expert roundtable at Georgetown University in April 2015. Meeting participants included thought leaders with expertise in aging, caregiving, health care, consumer behavior, product innovation, policy.