WSJ: Pandemic Spurring ‘Wave’ of Innovation to Support Aging in Place

The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is causing many Americans to re-evaluate how they wish to spend their retirement years, with more saying that they wish to spend those years at home. That popularization of aging in place will spur a “wave” of innovation from businesses as the need for more home-based retirement solutions proliferate. This is according to an article at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

“Some changes in store will be stressful, writes WSJ reporter Anne Tergesen. “Rising government deficits and falling bond yields are creating so much uncertainty about financing retirement that most people who can continue to work will—and for as long as possible,” according to a discussion with Laura Carstensen, director of Stanford University’s Center on Longevity.

The increased popularity of remaining at home for older people will also see the American business sector respond in a way that will offer additional solutions to help seniors stay at home for longer periods of time, the article says.

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“For instance, more people will age at home, where most adults say they want to remain,” the piece reads. “There will be a boom in innovations improving life in later years. And with COVID giving us a reason to reflect on mortality, we will plan how we want to live and die more deliberately.”

Much innovation in the technology sector is already focused on older adults, and that is only likely to continue in the weeks, months and potentially years to come, Tergesen writes.

“The most dramatic change under way is the growth in telemedicine, facilitated in part by Medicare’s decision since March to expand reimbursement to doctors for virtual visits,” it reads. “Wearable devices and diagnostic tests for home use will provide doctors with key information, including patients’ blood pressure and weight, and pave the way for better remote patient monitoring,” according to Dr. Katy Fike, gerontologist and partner in Generator Ventures, an aging-focused venture capital firm.

One of the more “dramatic” changes under way according to the article is the proliferation of telehealth options, helped along by CARES Act guidance to expand reimbursements for telehealth visits between patients and medical personnel by Medicare.

Older Americans and those contemplating retirement will also have to grapple with more efficient pathways to paying for retirement, the article says.

“[T]oday’s low bond yields mean future returns are expected to be lower than in the past,” according to David Blanchett, head of retirement research at Morningstar Inc. in speaking to WSJ. “Mr. Blanchett says his safe-spending recommendation is now between 3% and 3.5%. That means that someone who wants to safely withdraw $40,000 in the first year of retirement needs to save closer to $1.2 million than $1 million.”

Read the article at WSJ, subscription required.

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