Who Is Doing It: Senior citizens want technology that allows them to stay in their homes instead of moving to facilities like nursing homes, says Larry Jorgensen, CIO of Ecumen, a nonprofit that offers senior housing services. Dozens of vendors now offer products to help older people age in place, says Laurie Orlov, an analyst with Aging in Place Technology Watch. For example, Cisco offers the easy-to-use Valet wireless router, Jitterbug and Clarity offer simplified cell phones, and Alarm.com offers a webcam for remote monitoring.
How It Works: Ecumen tests new technology in the assisted living facilities it builds, and it will often offer the same products to owners of private homes, says Jorgensen. Technologies it offers now or plans to soon include emergency alert systems, electronic medication-management devices, gaming systems and social networking sites for seniors who live in the same neighborhood.
Growth Potential: Orlov estimates the market for aging-in-place technologies will reach $20 billion by 2020. Jorgensen says much of today’s demand is driven by adult children and caregivers who want to monitor the health of the older people in their lives. He also sees growth in adaptive technologies—devices that help older people overcome disabilities such as sight or hearing loss. —Grant Gross