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Older, but Not Always Wiser: Boomers Not Considering Steps to Remain Independent as They Age, According to Philips and Georgetown University Study

Philips and the Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business released their second study today that sheds light on the widening technology innovation gap for aging boomers. The study found most people want to live in their own homes as they get older (91 percent), but most do not plan to take the necessary steps to ensure they can maintain their desired lifestyle. In fact, while 96 percent of respondents say it’s important to be as independent as possible as they get older, only 21 percent of respondents plan to incorporate technology solutions, or to remodel and retrofit their homes in order to stay in place as they age.

Booming Boomers: Perplexing Problems

According to the U.S. Census, the number of Americans age 65 or older are estimated to grow to 83.7 million by 2050, almost double from the 43.1 million in 20121. However, the Philips/GSEI study shows that nearly 80 percent of 60-80 year olds are not thinking about, or are not sure, whether they will upgrade or update their homes. In addition, more than one-fifth of respondents (23 percent) simply do not know where to start or what is useful to them when it comes to upgrading their homes with smart technologies.

“The projected growth of the aging population constitutes a real need to focus on preparing for the future today,” said Brent Shafer, CEO of Philips North America. “Now is the time that we need to urgently and collectively shift focus to reduce the barriers and increase education on new innovations in technology that bring peace of mind, safety, and convenience to aging seniors.”

Costly Perceptions Prevail

The top barriers to making changes to one’s home are perceived cost and disinterest, indicating a lack of value in new technologies for the home.

  • Nearly three in five respondents (59 percent) say they are not interested in upgrading their home
  • One-third (33 percent) say upgrades are too costly
  • 42 percent say upgrading in-home technology is too expensive
  • One fourth (25 percent) of respondents are not interested in upgrades at all

Familiar Technology Finds Favorability

Aging Americans are willing to invest in new technology for things that they use regularly and are most comfortable with.

  • Half of respondents currently use technology to refill prescriptions. They also use it to access government services (45 percent) and connect with doctors (41 percent). 58 percent would be interested in stove tops or ovens that automatically shut off to help them live at home as they get older. Respondents also are interested in a single remote control to manage everything in the home (46 percent) and driverless cars (41 percent).
  • As they age, respondents feel the three most important factors for communities are high-speed internet access (87 percent), nearby grocery stores (83 percent), and access to hospitals and medical centers (77 percent).
  • The most important factors for home design features are a low-maintenance exterior (58 percent), master bedrooms and baths on the first floor (54 percent), and effective lighting throughout the house (54 percent).

“The long-term, intergenerational benefits to universal design and early technology adoption extend beyond the aging population. For example, structural and technological updates can help injured individuals of all ages move with ease,” said Bill Novelli, GSEI founder and Georgetown McDonough professor.

The results of this study and the individual barriers were discussed in an expert roundtable at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business facilitated by Philips and GSEI in May 2014. Meeting participants included decision makers from business, nonprofits, local government, and academe with expertise in aging, housing and real estate development, technology, and policy.

"Philips is helping to make aging well a reality for more people by introducing technology that meets the needs of aging consumers, sustains the environment, and opens opportunities for business and economic development," Novelli added. "Together, Georgetown, Philips, and others are working towards a full continuum of care for our aging population."

Outcomes and a full report from the round table meeting, as well as the full results of the current study, can be found at http://usa.philips.com/agingwellcommunities. Additionally, learn more about what baby boomers and Gen Xers think about technology and its ability to improve well-being and quality of life as they age at http://usa.philips.com/agingwelltech. Join the discussion on Twitter at #connectedaging.

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2013 sales of EUR 23.3 billion and employs approximately 112,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at www.philips.com/newscenter.

About The Georgetown Global Social Enterprise Initiative

The Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business aims to prepare current and future leaders to make responsible management decisions that yield both economic and social value. Through practical training for global business leaders, the initiative promotes transformative solutions to and impactful investments in the world’s significant challenges in health and well-being, economic growth, the environment and international development. It is led by Distinguished Professor of the Practice Bill Novelli and Executive Director Ladan Manteghi. Learn more at http://socialenterprise.georgetown.edu.

About Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business provides a transformational education through classroom and experiential learning, preparing students to graduate as principled leaders with a global mindset to be in service to business and society. Through numerous centers, initiatives, and partnerships, Georgetown McDonough seeks to create a meaningful impact on business practice through both research and teaching. All academic programs provide a global perspective, woven through the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in a way that is unique to Washington, D.C. – the nexus of world business and policy – and to Georgetown University’s connections to global partner organizations and a world-wide alumni network. Founded in 1957, Georgetown McDonough is home to some 1,400 undergraduates, 1,000 MBA students, and 1,200 participants in executive degree and open enrollment programs. Learn more at http://msb.georgetown.edu. Follow us on Twitter @msbgu.

Notes to the editor:

  • Methodology: The survey “Aging Well: Creating Connected Communities for Aging Well” was conducted online in partnership with Research Now and CQuest, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans aged 50-80.

1 http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/aging_population/cb14-84.html

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