Life expectancy is rising in the U.S. That's good news, but it does raise an interesting question. How will we make the most out of the extra time we are getting in retirement? Technology may hold the answer.
Advancements in technology are making the lives of seniors easier and more fulfilling, and will continue to do so in the future. Here are a few of the ways that newer technologies are expected to help us successfully navigate the retirement years.
- Health Concerns – Declining health and an inability to take care of oneself is one of the greatest fears of retirees. A loss of independent living is devastating to many seniors. However, the advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT) will make it easier for seniors to stay connected to their health care professionals, monitor their daily health, and even practice healthier lifestyles.
Imagine sensors throughout the home that can monitor habits and physical responses. Sensors embedded into clothing can track and report vital signs such as heart rates. Sensors in the floor could detect a fall or even a change in stride that is indicative of trouble. Bathroom items from scales to toothbrushes — even the toilet — can be capable of feeding back useful information that can detect potential problems.
Granted, there are privacy concerns (and, to an extent, general creepiness) about that level of information being collected on your daily habits and functions, but if it helps you to avoid a nursing home, we suspect you would prefer to live with it.
- Preventing Isolation – It is already possible for seniors to stay in touch with loved ones around the world with existing Internet technologies, assuming that they are given a bit of help understanding how to use them. Internet services that are specifically targeted to seniors are beginning to grow, with sites such as the over-fifty dating site OurTime.com. Even Facebook has a significant senior presence that allows people to stay in touch as well as search for, and reconnect with, past friends.
- Mobility – Driving can be a dangerous adventure as your eyesight and reflexes begin to fail. The self-driving car could enable seniors with declining skills to get out more frequently without fear of the highway (and will also make the highways safer in general).
When it becomes too difficult to get out at all, advances in virtual reality may be able to let you take that trip you have always wanted without ever leaving your home — or at least make it seem like you are doing so. Perhaps you can tour the great cities of the world, climb a mountain, or explore the jungles of the Amazon, all without ever leaving your chair.
- Home Maintenance – Robots are already available to help with cleaning, thermostat control, and home security. Appliances will soon be getting in on the act. Imagine an Internet-enabled refrigerator that can keep track of your goods, let you know when you are low on certain items, and even order them for you through home delivery.
- New Hobbies/Careers – Internet training is already available to allow you to train for a new career or research a new hobby. Technological advances may make it easier for you to pursue that training and put it to use. More jobs can be effectively accomplished by telecommuting, and the tasks associated with those jobs will be easier. For those who prefer the hobby path, it will be even easier to connect with like-minded individuals and enjoy virtual gatherings to share your pursuits.
The stereotype of retirees being technophobes is slowly going away, as each wave of retirees becomes more comfortable with the use of technology in their everyday lives and more willing to accept new concepts. Retirees of the future are more likely to put these advances to good use.
However, we are betting that one thing will stay the same — the stories about how much tougher things used to be. "You kids have it so easy today. When I was your age, I had to use a dial-up modem to get on the Internet! And my cell phone was the size of a brick!."
Let the free MoneyTips Retirement Planner help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.