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You'd think by now that some type of instant messaging would have 100% adoption. Recently the Atlantic published a long article on the growing adoption of social media by the oldest adults, noting an upcoming study about Internet use from the University of Alabama which found a "30 percent decrease in depressive symptoms among older adults who used it regularly." The Atlantic's article was particularly focused on the use of social media (like Facebook) for older adults who are unable to get out and about regularly. The article was particularly excited about the rapid growth in online use among the 74-plus population up to 30% as detailed in Pew Research's Generations 2010. Unfortunately, in more recent Pew Research studies (August 2011) -- only 42% of the 65+ population, according to Pew, go online at all. And of those who do, only 33% are social networking users. >>> Read more . . .
Something different -- a positive study of aging and cognitive decline. Last week in the midst of worse and most worse economic news, USA Today published the results of a decade-long study through Duke, Harvard and others that tracked 1049 older adults age aged 56-102 who at the beginning of the study showed no signs of dementia. At the end of the study, two-thirds of the participants showed at most only “slow cognitive decline,” not the level of decline typically associated with requiring assistance or medical care. Why is this interesting? Remember the often-quoted statistic that nearly 50% of seniors aged 85+ suffer from Alzheimer’s? This study undermines that estimate and therefore the domino effect of the assumptions that are derived from it. >>> Read more . . .
Non-Labor day – or is it? We need some new ideas for how to continue to earn money past the age of 50 – the old ways aren’t working. The American economy added a net number of zero jobs in August. That is impressive as a net number, given that home care and home health care are the fastest growing job segments today. Fear about the future is driving folks to continue to work past their ‘expected’ retirement age. And people are living longer – a prospect that certainly makes ‘planning’ for the future a daunting experience in a good economy. People are putting their money under the mattress, that is, if they still have some. Yet every day I get a press release from an entrepreneur, a startup company that wants me to know that they are launching and targeting boomers and seniors. Are these startups in the net number of ‘zero jobs’ in August? Are the traditional ways of counting workers, work, and non-farm payroll reflective of the continued ingenuity and idea creation that seems (from my vantage point) to be pervasive, targeting services and capabilities for older adults? Also, please note that the WSJ article about those who have lost jobs -- and note (which the WSJ did not notice) the jobs that several have found in the senior-related areas. >>> Read more . . .
Outliving our vision of ourselves. Just back from the Philips Active Aging Think Tank meeting – in which we echoed the recent frequent Wall Street Journal topic -- living to 100 and beyond. Most of us see ourselves as living to the age (whatever that was) of our parents and grandparents. Since life expectancy has inched past age 80 for women (in more affluent regions) that may seem sensible. Though we may not want to exit in the same way with the same illness, disability, or dementia that they had. But rationalizing optimists that we are, most likely we ascribe what they had to some lifestyle or behavior in the way they lived their lives -- we will overcome heredity just like we’ve overcome setbacks in the past. >>> Read more . . .
A long, long time ago, in an FCC commentary far, far away. Back in the dark ages (2009 to be exact), the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened a public comment on the US national broadband plan. David Isenberg’s response, It’s the Internet Stupid, (http://itstheinternetstupid.com/) is the consummate comment on broadband. “The direct, most immediate way to “advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery”, etc., is via broadband connections to the Internet. (I was an original signer to this document.) >>> Read more . . .
Summarizing the Pew Research reports to expose boomer/senior tech adoption trends was quite an eye opener, shining a light on the wide gap between enthusiasm and hype versus the reality of actual boomer/senior buyers and users. For example, in case you were wondering: the tablet, E-reader and smart phone have not taken the 65+ population by storm. But 24% of boomers and 11% of seniors have smart phones today – and I believe that number will double at the next survey. Not exactly a groundswell, nevertheless a clear recognition of benefit. >>> Read more . . .
Will it take a tsunami to create a coherent vision of more successful aging? It was a disaster. On March 11 of this year, one-third of the 16,000 Japanese tsunami deaths were among the 65+, no doubt embarrassing the citizens and government, who most likely believed they had done a good job of providing for an aging population. An article in The Gerontologist spells out why: In 1989 the Japanese government developed a vision for long-term care, refined in 2000 with its own slogan "from care by family to care by society” complete with "policy to make home, community-based and institutional services a universal entitlement" based on physical and mental status regardless of family availability and economic status. >>> Read more . . .
Were senior PCs reviewed in a column of the Wall Street Journal? Sort of. Last week, Walt Mossberg wrote about the Telikin PC for Seniors, which was unusual. The tech columnist-turned-Apple enthusiast for the Wall Street Journal periodically writes about other new tech (between Apple product announcements). The Telikin, first launched at the October 2010 AARP Convention, is not exactly new. Bet from reading the Journal, you didn’t know that the average aged WSJ newspaper print subscriber is a 57-year-old baby boomer with an average income of $191K. Also note that half of all baby boomers have one living parent. So tech for seniors should be of interest to baby boomer Journal readers, as well as the affluent NY Times readers, who spend more than $800/year just to read the newspaper in print. Both groups still have parents, both groups can afford to buy them a device currently on the market if they’re willing. But since only 42% of the 65+ population are online, that still leaves a mere 14.8 million people 65+ with online access to nothing. >>> Read more . . .
What are the basic facts about boomer-senior connectivity? Pew Research and others have been releasing report after report about technology use, but without a summary sheet, marketers might not be able to see the forest for the trees. So here are the basics from the past year of Pew-published surveys – to my knowledge, the only source for this number of categories that include 50+ age cohorts: >>> Read more . . .
Patience, patience, when it comes to robots and elder care. When it comes to robots to assist with caregiving and the elderly, we want to believe. It was just 2 years ago that Gecko Systems issued a press release saying that they expected "Medicare/Medicaid Payments to Increase Personal Robot Demand." Makers of the CareBot, the company announced its dealer program in June 2010 -- but it is unclear whether the company has moved into commercial release. It was just 3 years ago that the uBOT-5 (UMass Amherst) was offered up as having the potential to provide elder care for aging baby boomers. >>> Read more . . .