In the 2020s, Robots and New Technology To Have Greater Impact on Aging

Technological change is accelerating in every aspect of life and health care and aging services are part of it. Last week, it was reported that UPS is planning to use drones in the near future to deliver medical supplies to some health providers. Time magazine, in its November 4th Health Innovation issue, devotes much of the magazine to these issues. In one article, The Robot Will See You Now, it reports on a demonstration of a “social robot” that interacts with older persons at Knollwood Military Retirement Community near Washington. The Robotics and Innovation Lab at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland is working with the health facility to try out robots which are used in multiple tasks. Robots help to lift patients. There are delivery robots that “zip around hospital hallways like motorized room service carts.” There are “social” robots which comfort dementia patients. The article describes “Stevie” a “socially assertive” robot who engages with residents. “He” moves autonomously and like Alexa he can respond to questions. He can tell jokes and go door to door taking meal orders with his touchscreen attachment.

In the next three years there will be a 29% increase in the demand for these social robots and a 45% increase in demand for rehab robots. As the population ages, there will be an estimated shortfall of 151,000 paid care workers in the United States by 2030 and 355,000 by 2040.

There is a debate about whether this technology should be used to replace human contact, but health care experts and aging advocates say they can be of assistance to enhance services and provide information and support rather than replace people. It is an issue though that older persons and their advocates should be discussing. Here in Albany, many of us are talking about having a committee as part of our local village movement to discuss technology’s benefits and drawbacks. Above all, we want to be educated and know and understand what new innovations can enhance the quality of life.

US Population Older and More Diverse; 65+ To Outnumber 18 and Under by 2035

(Associated Press story)

The trends described below probably will be even greater in upstate New York and rural areas with the population continuing to be older with young people moving away from those areas. – Michael Burgess

The U.S. population will grow older and more diverse over the next four decades, according to new Census Bureau projections presented last week at a meeting of demographers.

As the U.S. median age increases, there will be a smaller ratio of workers in the labor force able to pay the payroll tax that funds Social Security payments to people of retirement age. In 15 years, the number of people over age 65 will be larger than the number of children for the first time in U.S. history.

A “demographic tidal wave” is one big reason for the nation’s expected aging and the eventual drop in natural population increase from births outpacing deaths. That wave is the Baby Boomers, born between the end of World War Two and around the time of the American invasion of The Beatles.

“The youngest Baby Boomers are 55 and older now, said Allison Plyer, a demographer attending the meeting. “In 10 years, they will be 65 and older, and as those folks pass away over the decades, that’s a very larger section of our population reaching an age where they will likely experience mortality,” Plyer said.

As the U.S. grows older, it will also become more diverse, with children leading the way. By next year, no single race group alone will make up more than half of U.S. children, the projections show.

Although non-Hispanic whites currently are a majority in the U.S., their numbers will dip below 50% of the population in 40 years, declining from 199 million next year to 179 million in 2060, the projections show.

“Immigrants do continue to fill in the ranks of working-age population and workforce as the Baby Boomers age,” Plyer said. “The most likely people to replace them will be people of color, particularly Latinos who are already here and have children.”

People who identify as two or more races will be the fastest-growing group in the next 40 years, with their population expanding as births outpace deaths.

Other fast-growing groups include Asians, whose growth will be driven by migration, and Hispanics, whose growth in the U.S. will be driven by natural increases, according to the projections.

The U.S. is expected to cross the 400 million-person threshold by 2058, as it adds 79 million more people in 40 years, but annual growth will slow down. The U.S. has about 326 million people today.

Population growth, currently 2.3 million people per year, is expected to slow to 1.6 million people a year by 2060.

Growth comes from immigration and from births outpacing deaths, but that natural increase will decline as the nation ages. The nation’s median age is expected to go from 38 today to 43 by 2060.

Young adults are getting married and having children at older ages than their parents and grandparents, and they won’t be having children in the numbers to replace the Baby Boomers, said Andrew Beveridge, a demographer at the City University of New York.

As the number of people over age 65 grows, the share of working-age adults — who pay, along with their employers, for Social Security through a payroll tax — will also decline. Next year, there are expected to be 3.5 working-age adults for every person of retirement age, but that ratio declines to 2.5 by 2060, according to the projections.

That ratio will put the U.S. more in line with Europe, though it won’t be as severe as in Japan, which for years has had an aging population without the help of migration to add to the population, the demographers said.

“It’s definitely a shift, but we’re not going to be like Japan,” Beveridge said.

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Virtual Reality Headset Helps Seniors in Assisted Living Explore the World

The Albany Times Union featured a story on Monday about how seniors in assisted living facilities are enjoying using virtual reality headsets to explore locations throughout the world as if they were there. The effort is part of the outreach by a for profit company seeking to provide activities using technology for older persons in facilities

Here is a link to the story

https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Schenectady-assisted-living-center-adopts-virtual-14486514.php