Part 2: The motivation for independence fuels a desire for connection with therapists
Refer to our previous blog post for a refresher on Part 1: The reality of a fall requires a response.
In conversations with seniors, seniors expressed a strong preference for aging in place, or remaining in their homes as they age. Our findings were very similar to the results of the AARP on this issue. According to the AARP, nearly 90 percent of adults over 65 want to remain in their current homes as they grow older.
The motivations, aspirations, and recently acquired competencies in digital engagement across the senior population provide the foundation for a meaningful, insight-enabled conversation with seniors. Why do seniors desire to age in place? Again, our findings were consistent with the research on this topic conducted by AARP and Retirement Living among others. Seniors desire to age in place because
- They view aging in place as a more affordable option, for themselves and their loved ones.
- Remaining in their home will be comfortable.
- Aging in place permits them to retain a sense of connection to their past, and to those individuals and periods which brought significant meaning to their lives.
- They want to retain independence.
- They believe memory loss is slowed by remaining in the home where they can access constant reminders of their past.
There was one positive from the pandemic that can now help position us to drive deeper digital engagement with seniors specific to their gait and motion health. As isolation and loneliness became the norm for seniors during the pandemic, seniors turned increasingly to technology to bridge themselves to family, friends, and their community. The result is an increasingly tech-savvy senior population of both younger and older seniors. Of course, it is not surprising that young seniors in their mid-60s and early 70s would be relatively tech savvy as the first smartphone was introduced to young seniors while they were in their 50s. However, it is quite surprising that older seniors made significant leaps in their use of technology.
According to Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in 2016, 11% of seniors 75 years of age and older were using smartphones. By 2020 (during the early phase of the pandemic), 60% of seniors were using a smartphone. In the same survey, only 8% of seniors over the age of 75 reported using the internet in 2016. By 2020, routine internet use in those over the age of 75 had increased to 46%. It can be expected that these numbers have leaped yet again since 2020 as a result of the continued isolation seniors experienced throughout 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.
Seniors are quite competitive when given the opportunity to test their ability to conduct standard motion tests. An indication of their desire to do the things necessary to remain independent.
Conversations with seniors reveal that they have a very strong competitive spirit. The competitiveness of many seniors can be leveraged to drive participation in digital or mobile applications that can improve strength and balance in the senior. We found a surprising level of enthusiasm for measuring and reporting status to be consistent across the seniors we spoke with and also highly motivational to senior users of OneStep.
Moreover, when the team at OneStep analyzed their internal engagement metrics with patients in the fall risk protocol, the OneStep team found that seniors in the fall risk protocol were 20+% more likely to adhere to routine gait measurement at 30 days and 40+% more likely at 90 days. This is particularly significant given the engagement metrics for OneStep are in the top 10% of the digital health category.
The incremental engagement for OneStep relative to the digital health segment overall is likely explained by the OneStep application user interface, the ease with which a patient can launch a gait assessment anywhere, any time inside the application, and, perhaps most important, the patient’s desire for meaningful insight into their motion health. The metrics appear to reinforce the competitive posture many seniors bring to their motion health.
Part 2: Key Takeaways
- Ultimately, the seniors' desire for independence, including remaining in their homes, as well as the senior population's increased competency with smartphones provides the foundation to elevate the conversation and increase engagement with seniors concerning their musculoskeletal health.
- As a result, there will be opportunities for leading technologies in digital health focused on gait and motion to extend the connection from the senior to not only the responsible physicians and therapists but also to spouses and caregivers who can serve as encouragers and/or co-participants with the technology.
- Equipping the caregiver (perhaps a spouse or child) to come alongside the senior to co-participate and encourage the senior can be an important component of the broader effort to drive adherence to the walking and exercise protocols.