The Generational Technology Gap May Be Closing—Even in Patients with Dementia

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Senior Helpers, a provider of in-home services for seniors who wish to remain in their homes despite age-related illnesses and mobility challenges including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, shared results of a survey of 1,000 of their clients regarding their attitudes to and use of technology. 

They found that more than 68% of respondents, who were 65 years of age and older, rated their technology skills average or above average. The survey examined seniors’ attitudes on social media, internet use, and phone or tablet applications (apps). Although 71% of survey respondents did not consider themselves “tech-savvy”, nearly 60% thought that younger generations underestimated their knowledge and aptitude for technology. 

Additional findings include that 39% of seniors use technology to help get things done more efficiently, and 31% embrace it as a matter of “pure survival.” A smart phone was the tech innovation that 29% of seniors couldn’t live without, and 70% of the seniors used a smart phone versus 13% who still do not own a cell phone. Regarding app usage, 23% use social media apps, 17% use maps and navigation, 14% use online banking, and 8% use games. 

As medicine continues to make use of digital technology from the electronic health record to text-messaging, it is important for all physicians to understand their patients’ facility with technology. Especially for neurologists, it is notable that seniors with neurologic conditions of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease can use digital technology. 

Peter Ross, CEO and cofounder of Senior Helpers said, “Technology is constantly evolving, but seniors are much more adept at using tech than many people give them credit for; it’s become integral to so many other aspects of their lives, they are embracing it.” 

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