Every parent will tell you: it’s all about the schedule. Kids’ school, sports, clubs, doctor appointments and more. And they juggle these all around jobs, shopping, taking care of the house, feeding the kids…the places you have to be never end.
It’s a complex dance that doesn’t ease until parents finally earn a sigh of relief when the kids go off to college, military and so forth. Although the idea of the age of independence is stretched pretty thin these days, kids, as a whole, eventually make it there.
But that relief? It can be short lived.
Many parents face these stresses reappearing alongside their aging parents. The needs of the elderly can start to feel a lot like the schedules they put behind them decades before. The worry of getting them to an increasing numbers of doctor appointments, shopping needs, grocery stores and simply connecting more with them gets ever harder.
The suburban expansion defined the U.S. in the last half of the 20th century. According to AARP, there are are more than 45 million people in the U.S. 65 years and older—with 27 million more coming by 2030. About 37 million older drivers still hold valid licenses today, with 80% of them living in the suburbs. Great for raising kids, but not so great when everything you need is miles away. Or, when an elderly mother feels alone and isolated far from the town center or her family. However, 9 out of 10 say they intend to stay in place.
Florida is jumping into the fray, due to its high number of retirees that continue to migrate there. The Florida Dept. of Transportation is funding new research to study the mobility needs of the elderly population. Demographics suggest other states will eventually face the same issue.
Autonomous cars are just one aspect of a host of innovations that will change what it means to age in place. Seamless, integrated tech will enable society to redefine what it means to age in the one place you want to: home.
I know my biggest fear of reaching late into my golden years and having to be fully reliable on others for basic needs. But if the day came that I was told I can no longer drive myself due to my health, I’ll get over it pretty fast. My son will ping me on a seamless monitoring device to tell me his car is on the way to help. I’ll gladly (okay, maybe grudgingly) slide right behind the Intel-inside chauffeur and head off to my doctor.
And I bet most of you would, too. That’s why the Baby Boomers—and their adult children—will welcome this next shift that’s coming faster than anyone could have imaged only a few years ago.