DENVER – The state Legislature’s Joint Technology Committee met Tuesday to hear about the technological developments that may help Colorado’s growing elderly population age.
The presentation covered a range of helpful devices, including GPS inserts for shoes of patients with advanced dementia to devices to help cut down on hospital and doctor visits.
An example included a device for diagnosing urinary tract infections from home.
Another is a smartphone application that asks a series of health-related questions and sends the answers to an individual’s health care provider to determine if an office visit is necessary.
Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, said Tuesday’s meeting was was one of a number of informational presentations the committee receives every year to keep learn about technological advancements in Colorado and across the nation.
These serve as inspiration for legislation in coming sessions and also inform decisions made during submission of budget recommendations, Humenik said.
She said Tuesday’s presentation was of particular importance because Colorado’s population of people 65 years and older continues to grow.
In November, the Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging released a report that shows the state’s 65-and-older population grew 29 percent from 2010 to 2015. It makes this segment of the population the third fastest growing in the nation. It is estimated to increase by an additional 68 percent, or 508,000, by 2030.
The total population growth for all ages in Colorado is 8.5 percent, according to the Department of Local Affairs.
The growth in the elderly population has been linked to an increased life expectancy because of improved medical treatment and baby boomers reaching retirement age.
Combined with the growth of the 60- to 64-year-old demographic, Colorado is expected to see a shift in its population where nearly 1 in 3 residents will be 60 or older, Humenik said.
In 2015, Colorado residents 60 and older represented 18.9 percent of the population, or slightly less than 1 in every 5 Coloradans. In La Plata County, 20.8 percent of the 53,000 residents are over 60 years of age, and 13.5 percent are older than 65.
Humenik said that it is encouraging to see technological advancements to help Colorado’s older population have independence, but she is concerned about security risks from data that apps and devices gather. It puts the older, more vulnerable population at risk of having their personal information being hacked.
She added that implementation of technology in at home care is a field where Colorado can maintain its standing as a leader on technology integration.
“We’ve got a lot of folks across the county that are looking to Colorado to see what we are doing,” she said.