HIMSS in Chicago - a finger on the pulse of health tech innovation, not health care.
Boomers have turned senior, let 2011 and the games begin. 2011 kicked off reading one silly article after another about the 'first wave of baby boomers turning 65, woe is us', and the related gloom-and-doom set of books, including, but in no way limited to Shock of Gray (Fishman) and Never Say Die (Jacoby). But the year really began for me at CES in Las Vegas where I stood mesmerized in front of the technologically transcendent Bellagio fountain and oh yes, saw exhibits and vendors inside the convention halls, heard numerous speakers talk about the growing prevalence of mHealth -- all those iPhone apps, crazy -- and learned about new tech for chronic disease management, numerous smart phones (11), tablets (85), app stores (one for each hardware vendor?) and more. Really too much information to comprehend.
National Alliance for Caregiving's study -- very revealing. In January, NAC published a report sponsored by United Healthcare which surveyed how caregivers view technology.* The 1000 online responders were all caregivers (providing at least five hours per week of unpaid care) and already were users of some sort of tech, as little as doing online searches for information. The report views these as 'technology-using caregivers', a somewhat alarming label in the context of their responses: >>> Read more . . .
Older adults have more tech literacy than the WSJ credits. I wish that I could love this article from the January 12 Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, grump that I am, not so much. It looks horrendous to see the 'Who's Online' Pew numbers in the chart -- 20% for Older Boomers? 13% of the 65-73 range? One pauses -- that's not right. Oh yeah, those are the percentages in those age ranges of the Internet-using population. So let's mull that over -- the 65+ population in total represents only 13% of the (entire) population in the US, so it kind of makes sense that 65-73 year olds are only 13% of the Internet-using population. So let's get the rest of the Pew Generations Online data out there for the record - 76% of older boomers (56-64) are online, 58% of those 65-73, and 30% of those 75+. Not too bad, more progress required. >>> Read more . . .
To be expected - the pounding stereo and flashing TV screens of the 2011 CES. Attendees were treated to a particularly awe-inspiring multi-screen, stop-you-in-your-tracks LG display; the white light room with nothing but Audis in it; and that deep-plush Microsoft region -- hard to call it a booth -- with so many Kinect game-playing glassed compartments. See two older men in suits playing an energetic kicking game of soccer with their screen avatars. Walk away, shaking your head. And this year's style -- never have so many people walked so far among so many exhibits of glittery iPhone cases, swoopy tablet sleeves, and sleek headphone cases. And 2011 is obviously the year that Tablets must be offered to compete with the absent iPad -- 75 different versions of a device no one needed just one (long) year ago. Read from others about what was, wasn't, and shouldn't be at CES. >>> Read more . . .
Seeing you with smart eyes that don't blink. Maybe you saw the intriguing article about the numerous and varied applications for computer vision -- some in the market, some just a gleam in the research and vendor eye. But we all want to think about the uses of computer vision -- not just a web camera for Skyping with the grandkids or used for playing cool games, but rather, a camera integrated with specific software that can react to the images seen -- and help with task or make the environment safer. >>> Read more . . .
In the sweeping generalization category, 2010 was a year of significant progress in tech for an aging population. It was a year of greater general market awareness about the role of tech and aging thanks to NPR, more sophisticated technology capabilities, and a boost in training and interest among those who serve an older population. Let's round up 2010, a year in which the concept and goals of aging in place took off, creating buzz and greater interest in the related technologies and services to help individuals, families, and professional caregivers. As a result of 2010, let's look into the 2011 crystal ball -- when the first of the intrepid baby boomers becomes a 65-year-old 'senior boomer' (arggghhh!), predict a few things and express some hope for a few others: >>> Read more . . .
Ho, ho, ho-hum: more older adults use the Internet. Maybe 2011 will be the year I stop whining about older adults not being online. Pew just released its Generations Online 2010 report -- one of the few data sets that breaks the 65+ population down into subgroups. Surveyed in the spring, Pew reports that now online are: 76% of aged 56-64, older baby boomers; 58% of the 65-73 age range (Silent Generation???? Silent about what?); and 30% of those age 74+ (GI Generation). These percentages are all up a bit from the slightly different categorizations from the 2009 report. And there's more: >>> Read more . . .
Seniors want to stay where they are – especially women. In November, AARP reported results of its survey of older adults (sigh: now 45+) about where they want to live. Similar to other AARP studies, 88% of the 65+ population is in agreement that they want to stay in their current residence for as long as possible, pushed up to 89% for women overall, and up further to 90% for the 50+ population with incomes between $25K and $50K per year. Maybe we interpret that as happy with one's current comfort level or maybe that represents responders' inability to afford a move that would provide the same degree of comfort or community.
Assisted living cost structures are outrageous. Perhaps you saw it -- the New Old Age article about one family's encounter with ballooning costs in Assisted Living (year-over-year cost growth of 5.2% nationwide), now an 18% (additional $12,000) hike proposed for this 72-year-old gentleman because he 'needed the next level of care.' Then there's the nursing home story I heard recently of a woman who has been 'private pay' in a nursing home to the tune of $100,000/year for years -- because she had the ability to pay. She spends her days reading books in the hallway. Or another -- 12-hour/day non-facility companion aides to 'watch' and prevent wandering on top of $4600/month 'assisted living' charges, bringing the total expenditure to $11,000/month. Another example: a locked memory care unit in a wealthy town, where a studio apartment starts at $7400/month. All of them have 'prices' of care completely out of proportion to the labor and actual delivery of the care itself. From the Times article: "The institutions often urge families to approach assisted living a bit more realistically." Yes, realism would be good -- regular meetings and clarity on future costs would also be good. "It’s important for people to remember that their loved one is moving into assisted living because they need services," said David Kyllo, executive director of the National Center for Assisted Living. "They’re not moving in because of a change in address. It’s needs-driven." I find that to be a rather snippy comment on the circumstance of a family understandably appalled by price hikes. >>> Read more . . .
Grandma at the virtual Thanksgiving table this year. I heard two examples this week of Skype-ing an aging relative into last week's family meal; you probably know more examples. Pushy tech-sharp adult children make sure that Grandma is sitting in front of a camera for her meal (nursing home, assisted living or in her home) and able to chat during dinner, seeing the grandchildren, the dog, without having to make an exhausting and destabilizing (especially these days) trip to visit the long-distance family. In another call, I was told that everyone over the age of 75 who is going to go online is already there. Given the distance-collapsing nature of video, I just don't believe it -- every adult child who has children is going to find a way to get a video phone, a camera-enabled iPad, or a camera-enabled laptop into the home of an aging relative. >>> Read more . . .