Editor’s Projected Inquiry

With another semester to continue research on the subject of medicine and technology, my new inquiry question would be: how will the healthcare of the geriatric population be affected by technology advances?

Only one of my various sources included any mention of the elderly population. Much of my research was geared towards the younger generation. Therefore, when I listened to a TedTalk by Eric Topol called The Wireless Future of Medicine, it was surprising to hear him mention upcoming technology that could be geared towards the older population. A major focal point of this talk was chronic disease management, specifically with the elderly. He discussed an idea that is in the works that will create shoes that improve proprioception, nerve stimulation, in order to prevent the elderly from falling.

Because a large portion of my research was directed towards a population of younger individuals, I did not include other sources on geriatric care despite my interest in the subject. I believe that this is a question that is vast and should possess its own domain. The importance of this question to me is supported by my knowledge of the fact that the United States has a massive population of individuals above 65 years old, approximately 46 million. These individuals are continuing to live longer, and as years continue to go by, the number of elderly people in the United States will only increase. Chronic disease more commonly affects people as they get older, and while considering the facts of the increasing population, it is clear that the healthcare system will need to be ready to care for these geriatric patients as they get older.

As a public health major, we rarely focus on entire countries under research. Instead, we look at populations. Whether it is by age, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or other defining factors, there has to be a focus. Because of this population-level outlook, I was immediately drawn to the subject of the elderly population seeing as the number of people who fall into this category is so high. Consequently, watching the TedTalk with a public health mindset immediately sparked questions in my head. For example, the article Smartphones are Revolutionizing Medicine from my Reader’s Guide discussed the ability of smartphones to track vital signs in the body. With chronic disease, this tool is extremely helpful in that individuals are able to manage their symptoms on their own. However, the geriatric population is one that arguably needs chronic disease management the most. But, they are the least likely age group to purchase the newest smartphones on the market. These ideas led me to ask the question: are the elderly prevented from reaping the benefits of technology advances in medicine?

I am eager to learn about whether or not we are paying attention to the elderly population and how we can tailor medical technology to the needs of geriatric care in order to avoid excluding them as we continue to make leaps in medical technology.