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 . . .

In healthcare, is half a technology better than none?

Hospitals say don't come back -- but do they mean it? Apparently hospitals needed the current push from the government to figure out a way to keep patients, especially the elderly, from being re-admitted within 30 days of their departure.  So now many hospitals are on the case, working their way through individual pilot programs designed the way they see fit, one pilot program at a time. In an article whimsically titled 'Don't Come Back, Hospitals Say,' today's WSJ offered up Boston University's 'Louise', a 'virtual discharge advocate' wheeled up to bedside (aka a software app) to offer discharge instructions to patients (post hospital regimens, including lists of meds) as they ready to leave the hospital.  BU's Project RED (Re-Engineered Discharge) converts into a packet of materials that offer up a medication dosage package and instructions. >>> Read more . . .

Selling Aging in Place Technology – It’s just a screenplay

Where's guidance on how to sell? One of my personal peeves about aging in place technology is the lack of marketing and sales information. With a purported gigantic market (aging tsunami and all) plus lots of sales people trying to earn a living, you’d think it would be a snap (and it should be). But there is a dearth of information from vendors about how to sell it easily and very little help from vendors on local or national marketing efforts. Frankly, I think many of us get too enamored with the technological guts and product features and forget how to sell the benefits of a technology servant. >>> Read more . . .

Does today's tech alienate the elderly?

Listening to professors talk about computers and the elderly.  For the past 2 Thursdays, I've listened to ASA webinars with two professors from Pace University talking about their 'intergenerational computing gerontechnology program' -- fine-tuned over time to engage college students at Pace University in technology service-learning projects. These involve training older adults -- many in nursing homes -- to use computers for-mail, photo attachments, video chat, web searching and online shopping.  Professors Jean Coppola and Barbara Thomas conducted grant-funded research studies around these semester-long training programs (ratio of 1 student to 2 seniors) to assess changes in both the seniors and in the attitudes towards aging of the students. The curriculum they have developed and outcome measurements includes both the age sensitivity training for the college students as well as outcome measures of older adult participants.  For seniors, measured outcomes included improved motor skills, self-confidence, eye-hand coordination, and reduction in depression and tendencies towards isolation.  >>> Read more . . .

Aging in Place Technology Watch May 2011 Newsletter

Age before beauty -- how about plain old tech design usability?  Palo Alto pundits pondered SRI's 2011 'Ten Tech Trends' this week. Fortunately for the cynical among the non-attendees, a transcript was provided.  "Trend # 1 -- Age Before Beauty -- Baby Boomers will dictate the technology products of the future."  Hmm. Arguments for having more tech designed specifically for older adults included referencing the big-buttoned Jitterbug phone and the fact that the whole country will soon be like Florida (population? weather forecast?). Supporter panelist Steve Jurvetson made the case for more age-inspired entrepreneurship, but Ajay Senkut from Clarium Capital objected (along with the attendees) and said that boomers and beyond would buy and use technology that is well-designed for all. The flip-side of this trend should have been discussed and wasn't -- why is so much tech disproportionately designed for the young and then surprises vendors (see Kindle, see iPad) when it is used by older adults? To me, this element of surprising vendors with adoption trends speaks of inadequate market research and pre-launch analysis.  >>> Read more . . .

An industry thrives -- the worker, not so much

The sound of one hand clapping.  We're apparently headed into a wave of hiring of home care workers, according to a new Senior Helpers study. Yay, I guess, for the job 'opportunities' for 100,000 additional in-home senior care workers in 2011.  It's a good thing that the article offered up an observation by one franchise owner who "said many of the caregivers employed were middle-aged women who were in the job because they wanted to help, rather than for the money."  Yes, of course.  They can't be in it for the money. Note the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the fastest growing job occupations.  Note the only one with an annual average wage below $20K -- yup, that's the personal care worker, one of the few on the list with only 'on-the-job training'.  One in three have no health insurance, which for a single individual (healthy) under the age of 65 requires an average premium cost of nearly $3000.  And sure enough, the industry is lobbying to be exempt from requirements to insure their workers, also admitting that for those who are currently insured, that the coverage “is probably not up to what will be required.” >>> Read more . . .

iPads in senior housing -- could be -- with help

Hype alert -- for senior housing residents -- iPads may both amaze and confound.  Caution -- this is not a review, even though I have a brightly lit iPad next to me as I write this text on a PC. I still love my PC because I've become fond its high feedback QWERTY keyboard with its easy-to-find punctuation, mouse access to grabbing text and URLs easily, and other conveniences that have rather grown on me over the years.  I admit to loving the iPad for reading a book, as a home music streamer, watching a movie on a plane, looking at my street from a satellite, and examining news sites.  But this is not about me. This is about the use of an iPad in senior housing settings. For example, check out this video made by a Colorado news station that shows an iPad tutorial for the over-88 senior housing residents -- which I just watched for the third time.  >>> Read more . . .

The Internet Doesn’t Change Everything: Channels Do

This website posts press releases – they tell a partnership story.  Press releases are pervasive – and I read them either because they’re sent to me (good idea) or they show up in my Google Alerts. Posted under ‘Vendor Press Releases’ on the site, they are tagged with terms that match the content so that web and site searches will find them. This site has been operational for over 2 years, so there are plenty – and a chance to think about staying power and persistence of the vendors who have come – and gone – along the way. Looking back to 2009, partnership announcements prevail – agreements to promote a vendor’s product, to make it available for constituents, and to resell.  Many of these agreements are just that, handshakes with press releases – and don’t necessarily result in more products sold through to end customers. But of course they create visibility and credibility via the partnered organization for a vendor that may be small and new.

>>> Read more . . .

Living connected lives as we age

Are older adults living offline lives – now? It’s so tough predicting the distant future when the pace of adoption accelerates.  The Boston Globe ‘Ideas’ column on the Future of Old interviewed a plethora of pundits on just how social our online lives might be, so different and remarkable when today’s 30-year-olds turn 70 in 2050. Think how much of a contrast that video game playing, cat video viewing generation would be to today’s old folk – struggling with isolation, boredom and Alzheimer’s (43% of people over the age of 85 show symptoms, cites writer Leon Neifakh.)   >>> Read more . . .

The Research is In (Part I): Who Makes Tech for Seniors Work in the Home?

Relief, some practical advice.  Last but not least at ASA last Saturday was the session that Laurie Orlov of Aging in Place Technology Watch had invited me and my comrade Susan Estrada of Aldea Communications and Happy@Home to participate in, “Technology for Seniors at Home:  Who and What Makes it Work“. Despite the timing of the session, we had a good time sharing our message with an intrepid passle of supporters including folks from a wide range of aging services organizations.  I think these folks were relieved that someone was finally going to provide a few practical suggestions.  “The Research” is Part I of a two piece blog on who makes technology work (or not work for that matter).  Part II will be more on the practical side.  >>> Read more . . .

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