//Logo Image
Authors: Hsu, Y. L., Su, R. H., Wang, Z.; recommended: Yeh-Liang Hsu (2012-08-02);
Note: This paper is presented at 2012 International Society of Gerontechnology World Conference, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e), the Netherlands, June 26~29, 2012. This paper is also published at Gerontechnology 2012; 11(2): 119-120; doi: 10.4017/gt.2012.11.02.283.00

Profile of the “aging boomers” in Taiwan

Purpose

It is generally agreed that the “post-World War II baby boom” began in 1946, and last for about two decades. Baby boomers born in 1946 turned 65 in 2011, which marked the first year of the 20-year “aging boom”. The profile of the aging boomers, so-called “the new generation of older adults (NG),” will surely be very different from that of the current generation of older adults (CG) who are 65 and older. This paper compiles related demographic data in Taiwan[1, 2] and compares the profiles of NG and CG.

Method

In this paper, NG is defined as population born from 1946 to 1966. The crude birth rate of Taiwan exceeded 32.5 every year in this period, with the peak value 49.0 in 1951. In 2010, life expectancy at age 65 is 19.2 years, and is projected to increase to 23.1 in 20 years, when the current 45-year-olds turn 65. Percentage of population aged 65 and over is 10.7% in 2010, and is projected to be 25.8% in 2032. The old-age dependency ratio is projected to rise from 14.6% in 2010 to 40.7% in 2032. To prepare for this unprecedented aging boom in Taiwan, there will be an immense demand for gerontechnology to support the future older adults to live independently. Moreover, according to International Monetary Fund, Taiwan’s per-capita GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP) increased from USD 9,858 in 1990 to USD 35,604 in 2010. NG obviously will have much higher purchasing power than CG in their retirement years, which should make them more willing to pay for gerontechnology products and services. Family has been an important force for care of older adults in Taiwan. In 2009, 88.1% of the older adults aged 65 and older live with their families. However, this force seems to be collapsing for the aging boomers due to the drastically declining birth rate in Taiwan. The average number of children for NG is 2.53, compared with 3.99 of CG. Moreover, the percentage of single and divorced persons increases from 6.53% of NG to 18.84% of CG. Families are also more scattered indicated by the rapidly declining average number of persons of a household from 3.3 in 2000 to 2.9 in 2010. In view of this change in family structure in Taiwan, one important direction of gerontechnology development is to link and organize family members to enhance the care function of the family, utilizing information and communication technologies. Educational level is an important factor for technological acceptance of the older adults, which has been an important challenge for developing gerontechnology products and services for CG. In Taiwan, average educational level of CG is slightly higher than elementary school, while the average education level of NG is midway between junior high and senior high. Higher educational level can also relate to higher conscious of health, independence, and quality of life. Other surveys showed that the percentage of NG who have experience with computers and Internet is 4 to 5 times that of CG. The prevalence of mobile phones (121.4%) and household broadband Internet connection (77.1%) in Taiwan further lower the technological barrier for NG.

Results & Discussion

Based on this understanding of the “future customers”, gerontechnology research in Yuan Ze University in Taiwan aims on building an intuitive and multimodal environment to enhance interaction and interpersonal communication between the older adults and their family members. In addition to text, live audio and video, the format of interaction and communication include physical motion, visual images, music, etc. The various sensors are gathering information not only for healthcare purposes, but also for enriching the content of interaction and communication by knowing what the older adults do or feel. Design concepts and prototypes based on the thinking of “Connecting Homes” are presented.

Keywords: communication and governance, aging boom, family, technology acceptance

References

[1]     Executive Yuan, Taiwan (2010). Social Indicators 2010, http://www.stat.gov.tw/

[2]     Ministry of Interior, Taiwan (2010). Statistical Yearbook of Interior, http://www.moi.gov.tw/stat/