Technology can be overwhelming but upcoming technologies may make life for retirees dramatically different--in a very good way.
Roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day and soon they may be able to live longer, healthier lives in retirement. Many of my retiring clients look forward to their golden years but also worry about aging and losing their freedom. Although Boomers are considered relatively technology challenged compared to their Millennial children, new advances promise to not only extend our lifespans but improve the quality of our lives.
Here are five exciting new technologies that I've been reading about that may add a little more luster to your golden years.
One of the challenges the elderly face is decreasing independence as they age. Losing the ability to drive due to aging and visual impairment can be isolating. But self-driving cars can monitor the environment around them to potentially drive more safely than humans. Robotic cars are already being tested in Google’s labs. How nice would it be to hop into a self-driving car, instead of relying on friends or family for a ride?
The Google cars have driven over 1 million miles without a major accident so far. U.S. safety regulators have ruled that the computers operating the cars could be considered humans under federal law, which has paved the way for robotic cars to drive into our lives within the next decade.
Shoes that Reduce Falls
This one will save a lot of broken bones.
Researchers have developed a wearable insole technology that may decrease falls by 70%. While the insoles are not being produced yet, the advancement is promising for seniors with a propensity for falling. The CDC reports that one out of three people over 65 will fall each year though most don’t tell their doctors.
Falling once increases the chances of falling again and adult falls are responsible for head injuries and broken bones that lead to hospital stays and lengthy recoveries. Shoes are often to blame for falls, so orthopedic surgeons and scientists have teamed up to create balancing shoes to help prevent falls. When shoe sensors detect an imbalance, they automatically stabilize to help the wearer regain their balance. The shoes are expected to be available within two years.
Home Health Robots
Since The Jetsons, we've been waiting for robots to enter our homes. Health aid robots have been in development for decades but have recently begun in-home testing in Europe. These robots can issue medication reminders and communicate with doctors via a wireless network.
Developers envision the robots helping to monitor sleep and eating patterns, take temperatures and vital signs, as well as alert human health workers when something is wrong. They may be able to help with cooking, cleaning, and housework, which could allow seniors to stay in their homes longer. The robots are expected to decrease home health care costs and may be available within the next decade.
If you're like me, you probably don't pay much attention to the socks you wear. But they just may save your life in the future. Every 20 seconds, an amputation takes place in the world due to complications of diabetes. And what's worse is that more than half of amputations lead to death within five years. The CDC estimates that 7 million people in the United States have diabetes and are not yet aware.
New smart socks can monitor for early indications of both edema and diabetic complications, allowing patients to get earlier care that will decrease morbidity. The fiber optic threads and sensors within the socks detect hot spots that can turn into dangerous ulcers. Other smart compression socks safely reduce lower-limb edema in patients with diabetes. Both types are expected to be available within five years.
Remember your parents or grandparents struggling to see the buttons on their TV remote control or read a manual to program the VCR? Those days may be long gone, thanks to smart homes that can be operated by voice commands.
Voice recognition technologies allow the elderly to use their computers, start the washing machine, or program the thermostat. Automatic programs can turn off the coffee maker or set a home security system. While Bill Gates reportedly spent $100 million building his luxury smart home, consumers can now purchase smart home technologies to control their home systems from their phone or tablet for around $100.
Many of my clients look forward to retirement with excitement but worry about what the change in life will mean for their overall happiness. Thanks to new technologies, we can look forward to longer, happier, and healthier lives in retirement. Working with an experienced financial advisor can help you prepare for the transition and take appropriate financial and lifestyle planning steps. To learn more, visit our website, listen to our podcast, or contact us today.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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