Virginia County Explores How Technology Can Help Aging Population

It’s clear that a majority of people want to remain independent as they age, and now technology can help them do so. As a Northern Virginia resident and an employee of AARP, I was drawn to a recent local event titled “Can Technology Help Older Arlingtonians Age Independently?”

The event was the fourth installment of Arlington County’s Digital Destiny campaign, which seeks to explore the impact of the Digital Revolution on defined aspects of life for the county and its residents.

This session featured county employees, residents and aging experts discussing tech trends likely to have the greatest impact on older Americans.

Speakers included:

  • Amy Doherty, chief information officer, AARP
  • Brittany Weinberg, director of community engagement, Aging2.0

 

Doherty discussed three emerging trends and how they can apply to aging independently:

  1. Leveraging virtual reality to make the aging experience real to people of all ages.
  2. Investigating ways that robotics can aid in caregiving and social isolation.
  3. How artificial intelligence could strengthen programs like the Fraud Watch Network that provide citizens with information on how to avoid scams.

 

Weinberg explained how people-centered design, including voice recognition and gesture controls, is improving the technology experience for people of a variety of ages and is helping to solve issues related to caregiving and social isolation. She also noted that the prevalence of sensors within the home helps enable people to age independently and live in their homes for as long as possible.

After each speaker presented, audience members were charged to brainstorm ways they thought technology could make their lives easier.

The ideas presented included:

  • Programs that enable schools to give back to the 50-plus community by allowing children to tutor older adults
  • Programs like Cyber Seniors and AARP TEK as existing resources to help educate adults about technology.
  • Libraries as good resources and as go-to sites for downloading digital books, taking classes and accessing educational videos via Lynda.
  • Encouraging tech companies to design for all ages and accessibility.
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