August 31, 2022

Tech Savvy Seniors: Older Adults Shaping the Future of Tech

April LaMon

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the country will reach a new milestone in 2034—people 65+ are expected to number 77.0 million, while children under 18 will number 76.5 million. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, what will the future hold for Generation X (41 to 56 years old) and Baby Boomers (57 to 75 years old)?  

The key to uncovering the answer is to first understand the different ways each Gen X and Baby Boomers use their smartphone, which is the primary tech tool for many, with people across all generations averaging approximately four hours of smartphone usage per day. 

According to AARP in a national study conducted in 2020, older Americans are increasingly drawn to new technology and use it at a similar pace as younger adults. When it comes to smartphone adoption, the generational gap is narrowing. At the time of the study, AARP noted: 

  • Smartphone adoption is 86 percent among Americans aged 50 to 59 
  • Smartphone adoption is 81 percent for those 60 to 69

A recent Forbes article further breaks down the differences in smartphone uses across generations. When it comes to Gen Xers, the article notes that people in this demographic:

  • Spend about two and a half hours per day on their smartphones 
  • Spend two hours a day on social media
  • 81% of Gen Xers have a Facebook 
  • 71% of Gen Xers who have a YouTube account

When it comes to Baby Boomers:

  • Marketing Dive noted that 65.6% of baby boomers own a smartphone
  • Around 55% of Baby Boomers have a tablet

According to Forbes, Baby Boomers primarily use smartphone apps to help them maintain a better quality of life, with apps geared towards shopping, healthy living and travel. Unlike Millennials and Gen Zers, who prefer icon-driven user interfaces, Forbes states Baby Boomers prefer “long-form text and moving through pages at a slower pace in order to digest all information.”

When it comes to new tech developments and real estate, AARP found that “consumers over 50 are helping fuel the demand for smart home technology, such as home monitoring, security systems, home assistants, and smart appliances.” With this smart home boom, developers are beginning to embrace smartphone technology to support aging in place for older Americans, a trend likely to continue making headway in the years to come. 

This concept of technology and seniors aging in place is a trend Alosant and its clients are embracing with optimism. The Alosant ResX Platform™ carefully curates the content within the system based on cues captured from each user, tailoring their home feed to fit their usage, preferences, interests and profile type. The app allows residents to engage with their community and take advantage of an amenity-rich lifestyle—from signing up for fitness classes to reserving a day on the tennis courts, Alosant puts the power in each resident’s hand.

Willow Valley Communities, a premier, award-winning, 55+ senior living community located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recently launched an Alosant-powered branded lifestyle app. Whether ordering dinner, signing up for a wine tasting or reserving space for a special event, residents enjoy all the benefits of the app with ease. For those who may not be as fluent in technology as others, the community’s management team provides step-by-step support. Plus, advanced technology in the app allows loved ones to assist residents by utilizing the User Role function.

“Technology has become a key element in providing our residents convenience, access and the overall quality of life they are seeking when they move into one of our communities,” said Brian T Rutter, Chief Marketing Officer for Willow Valley Communities.

Above all, user experience must be top of mind when it comes to new tech developments to ensure ease of use and seamless navigation.

How will this data shape tech trends moving forward? Understanding how different generations use smartphones can help developers across all industries better optimize products and apps to offer enhanced personalization for each user.

For Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, who will comprise most of the population in a little over a decade, Forbes notes that “Gen Xers and baby boomers use apps more purposefully. Gen Xers prefer personal connections to visual stimulation, which is why many of them are on Facebook. On the other hand, baby boomers use apps to maintain a better quality of life. They may also prefer app designs that are easier to read and navigate.”

While the future of tech may not be set in stone,  this new data indicates that Generation X and Baby Boomers will have a significant impact on new tech innovations in years to come.

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