A great article in the December 14, 2015 Washington Post, The On-Demand Economy: Changing the Way We Live As We Age, explains how many new online services such as food delivery, rides on demand. and home services are making life much easier for elders who want to remain independent as long as possible. Most of these connect with easy-to-use smart phone apps.
The article authors, Luke Yoquinto and Joseph Coughlin, are affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab, a group that connects new ideas with technology and aims to improve the health and quality of people’s lives, especially as they age.
According to the Washington Post report, companies that provide on-demand services and charge by the hour (and often for as little as an hour) are increasingly accessible to older adults. With grocery delivery services now available at many stores, customers can already choose to have their groceries delivered or available for pick-up for a modest fee. While some stores have their own apps, Instacart.com is a site that provides access to a broader range of stores. Another site, TaskRabbit.com, connects individuals with vetted workers who can provide home services — offering everything from changing lightbulbs to small home improvement projects. The article’s authors even describe an 80-something person who is renting out an extra bedroom on Airbnb.
Interestingly, many of these new services are not created or developed especially for elders, — the images on their websites often feature younger people — but the services can be used by older adults right along with everyone else. For elders these types of services may make the difference between living independently and needing to move into a community that offers assisted living and other services.