Technology to Support Aging in Place: Older Adults' Perspectives

Healthcare (Basel). 2019 Apr 10;7(2):60. doi: 10.3390/healthcare7020060.


The U.S. population over 65 years of age is increasing. Most older adults prefer to age in place, and technologies, including Internet of things (IoT), Ambient/Active Assisted Living (AAL) robots and other artificial intelligence (AI), can support independent living. However, a top-down design process creates mismatches between technologies and older adults' needs. A user-centered design approach was used to identify older adults' perspectives regarding AAL and AI technologies and gauge interest in participating in a co-design process. A survey was used to obtain demographic characteristics and assess privacy perspectives. A convenience sample of 31 retirement community residents participated in one of two 90-min focus group sessions. The semi-structured group interview solicited barriers and facilitators to technology adoption, privacy attitudes, and interest in project co-design participation to inform technology development. Focus group sessions were audiotaped and professionally transcribed. Transcripts were reviewed and coded to identify themes and patterns. Descriptive statistics were applied to the quantitative data. Identified barriers to technology use included low technology literacy, including lack of familiarity with terminology, and physical challenges, which can make adoption difficult. Facilitators included an eagerness to learn, interest in co-design, and a desire to understand and control their data. Most participants identified as privacy pragmatics and fundamentalists, indicating that privacy is important to older adults. At the same time, they also reported a willingness to contribute to the design of technologies that would facilitate aging independently. There is a need to increase technology literacy of older adults along with aging literacy of technologists.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; co-design; privacy; research ethics; retirement community; robots.