The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) recently released new research on the potential of digital technology to change the role that the home plays in supporting activities of daily living and, ultimately, the ability of older adults to age in home and community.
The research paper, titled “Centering the Home in Conversations about Digital Technology to Support Older Adults Aging in Place,” admits that much of technology – labeled as “ambient assisted living” – is not new, but newer versions are increasingly enabling the communication of health information with caregivers and healthcare providers. The paper also raises a critical question of how effective these technologies can be when implemented in “housing that is physically inadequate, does not meet accessibility needs, or is unaffordable—conditions that already affect millions of older adults, particularly people of color, those with low incomes, and renters.”
The research highlights important issues for age- and dementia friendly community stakeholders, including where evidence does and does not exist for how effective some of the technology is in terms of improving health outcomes. The paper also discusses the digital divide and broader issues around housing affordability and accessibility.