Smartphones and health -- not quite ready for older adults and chronically ill

Smart phone app futurists take heart -- your blood pressure (is/may be/isn't) trending up (down). So this week's Pew Research Smartphone Ownership Survey reports that 24% of the 50-64 age group and 11% of the 65+ population have smartphones. That's good, they are incredibly useful -- navigation, Internet searches, e-mail/chatting, maps, reading a book, and on and on. But meanwhile, while they are still ramping up, it seems that the world is going a bit mobile healthy crazy, which will not help those most in need of these apps until adoption further grows, never mind trusting health data transmitted through a phone. The NY Times (April 25) expresses concern: Can a smart phone save your life? (Congrats to Independa for its senior monitoring mention.) Maybe, but there are problems. Watch a video of Eric Topol at the Aspen Ideas Festival: Yes/no, oops, let me restart this app!) And last, but definitely not least, IBM's new report about IBM scientists 'envisioning' a number of 'future' devices for better self-management of health and monitoring of seniors that will encompass diet support, caregiver notification, blood test and mobility. >>> Read more . . .

Will aging in place become aging in some other place?

The times are changing – just ask boomers.  Just when is the survey glass half-full or half-empty? According to a June survey from The Hartford and MIT AgeLab, “50 percent of boomers want to stay in their current home as they age, but most have no plans in place.”  Hold on there, just a second, that means HALF of them want to move! How interesting and how antithetical to aging in place! But it was just a year ago that AARP surveyed the 45+ population and found that "almost three-quarters of Baby Boomers ages 45 and older – and effectively nine in ten people 65+ – said they want to stay in their current homes for as long as possible.” That was then and this is now. >>> Read more . . .

Who will develop the Kinect caregiving app?

Two disruptive technologies now in one company -- Skype and Kinect.  Looking back at the past year of technologies that could make a difference in the lives of older adults, I have often thought that Skype and Kinect, not smartphones and tablets, might be the two most significant. Skype because it brings long distance families together (so many examples!) and Kinect because it enables an interaction without the limitations of a mouse, keyboard, or controller. Now both of these are Microsoft's -- and once they've figured out how to commercialize them, we can expect Microsoft, as they have throughout their history, to treat them like platforms for a broad ecosystem of willing partners to extend into new applications.  And therefore, there will be apps that make a difference in the lives of older adults. >>> Read more . . .

Retailing AIP Tech: Early Observations from the Fair

Fried at the fair. This year, we were selected to have a retail stand at the San Diego County Fair. There are 1.4 million people expected to attend the fair during its 22-day run from June through July 4. In addition to the infamous Chicken Charlie’s fried food (fried Kool Aid is this year’s hit, many people attend the fair for the shopping — four large halls full of Sham Wows, Vitamixes and assorted pitchmen and gizmos. >>> Read more . . .

Aging in Place Technology Watch June 2011 Newsletter

Google Health, a solution for a problem you didn't know you had. Why did Google launch Google Health in 2008 -- and shut it down this week? I picture folks there imagining in our health-conscious, self-care oriented Internet searchers, yearning for a place to park our personal records, and that the advertisers, knowing this, would ultimately layer in oodles of ads that related specifically our growing health self-management needs and wants. Sorting and organizing our personal health (or elder care) information on an online website -- it sounds like a good idea. From the Times article in 2008: "The companies all hope to capitalize eventually on the trend of increasingly seeking health information online, and the potential of Internet tools to help consumers manage their own health care and medical spending."  Well, they got the former quite right. With more than 60,000 sites to look for a name-that-diagnosis factoid, we are both desperately and patiently seeking health information (sadly not necessarily correlating with our improved health). But unless our insurance companies mandated and incented us to enter data online -- or our post-clipboard era doctors required it, do we really want to put our med lists (or any other personal information lists) on advertising-sponsored sites (including WebMD)? If our credit card files can be hacked and siphoned away, even just thinking our health information (or that our aging parents) is out there, reusable, intentionally or not, should give vendors pause -- and so it did -- bye bye, Google Health. >>> Read more . . .

Health IT must include senior quality of life technology

Forbes says health IT is hot -- although not yet profitable. A title of a Forbes article caught my eye recently: "Health IT entrepreneurs, now is your time." It went on to note that "the sector is being energized thanks in large part to government subsidies which reward doctors and hospitals for buying electronic health records (EHRs)." The article then talks about VC investment plans, who's investing, and offers a few examples of startup ideas. Think about this request from the "government's Health Data Initiative, which invites entrepreneurs to develop applications based on their mounds of health data collected by the government." Oh yeah, that would be extremely helpful to the government -- perhaps to refine rankings focused on hospital readmissions -- which really are about seniors -- heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia readmissions that cost Medicare $12 billion per year. But think what it means to have better reports, more rankings, more granular punishment to providers. That's good for the government -- under the theory that if one reports and punishes at the far end of the health care process, perhaps the beginning of the process of care will just fix itself. >>> Read more . . .

Is Tech a Four Letter Word?

Do some professionals think we're speaking another language? Maybe it's just my particular experience. But have you ever tried to discuss aging in place technology with a home care agency or other caregiver group and watched them morph into that blank stare, I-don’t-like-or-trust-technology catatonic state? A while ago, I was at a presentation given by the West Wireless Health Institute.  In the room were dozens of caregiver organizations – home care agencies, disease affinity groups, senior centers, etc. The presentation was fascinating – GloCaps, Band-Aid heart monitors -- all kinds of neat health gadgets as well as the challenges that lie ahead with deployment and acceptance. >>> Read more . . .

Recently launched technology for aging in place

Innovation is alive and well in the aging in place technology space although it hasn't all been recently catalogued here.  So catching up with some recent press releases and product announcements from the April to June timeframe, here are more technologies for helping older adults. Each of these will include information from the vendor and a link to learn more at their website -- in addition, you may find a vendor press release in that category of this site (lower right side of home page). In no particular order: >>> Read more . . .

Dementia care technologies -- another look

Technologies to keep those with dementia safe at home.   How you ask the question changes the answer. A few weeks ago, I revised my thinking about dementia care technology. The catalyst:An interviewer with the Cincinnati Enquirer called me a few weeks ago for a story she was doing -- and asked me about the technologies that could enable those with Alzheimer's or other dementias to remain safely in their homes.  When asked the question that way, I realized that there were quite a few and worth summarizing and referencing more of the vendors in this blog post -- none were in the article to the degree that a previous blog posts on caegiving tech and Azheimer's tracking technologies (2009). So here is an expansion on the Cincinnati Enquirer's published story including statements from the interview/article and expansion: >>> Read more . . .

Simplicity and straightforwardness in product designs and deployments

KISS Your Product. Really. The KISS principle should be a mainstay in aging in place technology design, or as Laurie says “Design for All.” Here’s what Wikipedia says about KISS, an acronym for the design principle "Keep it simple, Stupid!". Other variations include "keep it short and simple", "keep it simple AND stupid" or "keep it simple and straightforward". The KISS principle states that simplicity should be a key goal in design, and that unnecessary complexity should be avoided.” >>> Read more . . .

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