Eldercare came front and center as Covid-19 overwhelmed assisted living communities and nursing homes across the country, endangering some of our most vulnerable loved ones at an alarming rate. As of the end of November, there were more than 377,000 positive cases and more than 76,000 resident deaths reported in nursing homes alone.
However, this attention to our older population’s well-being won’t dissipate when the pandemic ends. America is aging at an unprecedented rate, with seniors soon expected to outnumber young people for the first time in U.S. history.
As a country, we’re not ready for this demographic sea change — yet. Providing care to an aging population of this magnitude will require significant investments in the form of time, energy and money. And it’ll require a concerted effort from top to bottom, from the healthcare system to the individual level.
The healthcare technology industry is uniquely suited to meet this need. I believe health tech services will eventually become as commonplace as a Netflix or Amazon Prime membership. Here are three healthcare trends to follow that will shape medical technology in 2021.
Aging Americans’ In-Home Care Preference
With the fertility rate declining and life expectancy rising, the U.S. is getting gray fast. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, the senior demographic will become more prominent than ever before. By 2030, when all baby boomers will be age 65 or older, seniors will account for approximately 21% of the U.S. population, up from just 15% in 2018. By 2034, older Americans will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.
As the number of older Americans climbs, so will the need for resources to help them age with dignity. That means a rise in demand for healthcare and independent and in-home care as seniors are increasingly looking to age in place.
Health tech companies are already reimagining the home’s function and outfitting it with fully connected household devices that remove the friction between receiving help. This is a preview of what the future of in-home healthcare will look like.
Providing these in-home care resources requires developing products with empathy, understanding, and creativity. Engineers that fail to address the senior user experience will fail to deliver a useful product, not because the technology isn’t good but because the barriers to entry are unnecessarily high. Accessibility must be the primary litmus test.