AARP: 71 percent of caregivers want to use caregiver-focused technology

By Aditi Pai

Some 71 percent of caregivers are interested in using caregiver-focused technology to complete tasks, though just 7 percent percent have used these tools, according to an AARP study of 1,028 caregivers who completed online surveys between October and December 2015. 

The survey was conducted by HITLAB in partnership with Project Catalyst, a research initiative from AARP.

All caregivers who took the survey met certain criteria. Caregivers had, in the past year, provided at least eight hours of care in a week and cared for someone who was aged 50 or older.

“This research shows caregivers are seeking technologies that can bring them peace of mind,” AARP Senior Vice President of Market Innovation Jody Holtzman said in a statement. “But they are not aware of existing solutions that meet their needs or they perceive the options to be overly costly or complex to use. This presents an opportunity for the technology industry to provide viable alternatives to the 40 million caregivers actively looking for ways to lessen their workload.”

The survey also found that, young caregivers use these tools twice as much as older caregivers. Some 8.5 percent of caregivers between 18 and 49 use caregiving-focused tools, while only 4.6 percent of caregivers over 50 are using them. Additionally, 65 percent of people between 18 and 49 said they are likely to use caregiving-focused tools, while 56 percent of caregivers between the ages of 50 and 64 said they are would use this technology.

Caregivers said the tools they use most help them with scheduling, organizing, and refilling medication. Some barriers to adoption, caregivers said, are that technology is too costly and complex, so it’s not worth the time investment. 

AARP first launched Project Catalyst in April 2015. The organization works with partners including Pfizer, UnitedHealthcare, and Georgia Tech to promote an increased focus on patients over 50 in digital health research and development.

Earlier this week, a report from Parks Associates found that while 76 percent of caregivers in US broadband households own a smartphone, just 40 percent of this group use an app to help them with caregiving tasks. Parks explained that the low adoption of caregiving apps was in part because of the age distribution of caregivers. Some 27 percent of caregivers are aged 45 to 54 and just 16 percent of caregivers in this age group are also app users.