What one new technology product do you think would be the biggest help to older people?
Young people and seniors -- a non-obvious formula. A few years ago Scientific American published a study asserting that socialization between young and elderly improves the health and well-being of seniors (yeah, so the study was about fruit flies -- never mind that). This week a few other news items caught my eye: >>> Read more . . .
It's been more than 6 months since this blog post about tech trends that would influence product capability in 2010. It seems fitting to check status on what's happened so far, with another status check planned just prior to the new year: >>> Read more . . .
Software as a Service to seniors. A follow-up: It was just over a year ago that FirstSTREET and MyGait launched the GO Computer -- a Software as a Service (SaaS) PC for seniors who (no surprise) don't want to or can't deal with the hassle of upgrades, security updates, and the myriad of features that make owning a standard computer so challenging. Chatting with Chuck Lalonde, SVP of Senior Services at MyGait, the vendor that provides a variety of computer-related products for seniors, it turns out that more than 5000 GO PCs, all desktop, have been sold since that June, 2009 launch, not counting those sold into senior housing communities. Chuck explained the 'service' that is the benefit to seniors provided by the GO PC, which now sells for $879 plus $19.95/month. >>> Read more . . .
Tech coalitions -- small steps to the start of a community service? Last week was the start of a new Forum category, Community Coalitions About Aging Technology, with San Diego County as the first entrant - 'to help local organizations become more familiar with technologies that could help seniors in the county.' Soon to have their first meeting, Denise Nelesen spoke about the intent, which is to bring local organizations up to speed on what products are out there. She is particularly interested in moving beyond 'computers in libraries' to other categories of products that could be useful to seniors. If others have similar local initiatives and ideas about how to do this, please post in the forum. >>> Read more . . .
New mobile wireless access survey by Pew -- overall usage is up. Get ready for some numbers -- but first, a definition. This new Mobile Access 2010 report from Pew defines mobile wireless access as a) Going online with a laptop using a wi-fi connection or mobile broadband card or b) Using the Internet, email or instant messaging on a cell phone. Given that definition, "59% of American adults now go online 'wirelessly' using a laptop or a cell phone, an increase over the 51% who did so at a similar point in 2009." And today, compared to a year ago, more cell phone users are taking pictures (76% versus 66%), sending text messages (72% versus 65%), and even accessing the Internet (38% versus 25%) from the 2009 survey. >>> Read more . . .
Line up to learn your longevity likelihood. Aren't you just loving the opportunity we will soon have to download that free genetic marker test kit, the one that with 77% accuracy will tell whether we will live past 100?* Boston University scientists have 'no plans to profit' from the results, but they could make the kit available later this summer. (Warning: analysis of the results will be costly.) I am so struck by how the law of unintended consequences could play out, especially in areas of insurance -- as with a home test kit for Alzheimer's, people might be more likely to purchase long-term care insurance. With a longevity test on the market, how long will the term need to be in term insurance? Taking it a step further, should insurance companies offer free kits as a marketing device? Should your doctor know that you've taken such a test? Should a health insurer know? What happens to rates, deductibles and lifetime caps? What kind of housing and support systems would we want if we knew we could live to 100 or more (or if we knew we would suffer from Alzheimer's)? What would our families do with that information? >>> Read more . . .
No new technology -- huh? Sometimes ya gotta wonder. Listening on a call to a group of senior housing executives recently, I was intrigued by the comment of one of them: "There isn't any new technology." The context was a rationalization of the technology areas they are currently engaged in (home monitoring, senior communication). I was reminded of that old cliche: "You snooze, you lose." In this as in all technology categories, every day an entrepreneur wakes up and says to themselves, 'I can do that.' I know -- I hear from them. They are reminded somehow of population demographics or they are engaged in the care of their grandparents, or they just walked out of a senior housing community and could not believe how out of touch the management was -- and therefore they would become -- if their parent moved in. Company of the month that I bet the speaker hasn't heard of -- InTouchLink -- software for seniors -- yeah, appropriate for senior housing organizations.
Tech is useful, but deployment approach needs some work. So here's an article about Senior Lifestyles Corporation and their deployment of QuietCare in a Florida (Fort Pierce) Assisted Living community. Was this a happy experience, like the NY Times article last year about keeping frail individuals longer in their homes through effective remote monitoring? Sadly, no. This one cites a family member describing the additional $200/month charge for QuietCare as 'elder abuse' while contemplating legal action. Another resident circulated a petition protesting the installation, and the local ombudsman has now weighed in and discussed the situation with the press. Hmm. That didn't go well. >>> Read more . . .
Senior computers -- not so many winners. Over the past few years, several attempts at creating a 'Senior' computer have been tried, including as noted a pricey Senior PC partnership between HP and Microsoft, the thin-client GO Computer from MyGait, sold through FirstSTREET, which is not extensible -- what you get is what you get, and as a few frustrated comments on the blog post indicate, it's not to everyone's liking when it is time to add devices or additional software. >>> Read more . . .
This rant is not about technology - it's about communicating. In one short week, we have read about a doctor who refused to turn off a pacemaker in a frail and demented man ('it would be like putting a pillow over his head') -- at the request of his wife who was falling apart caring for him. We have learned that doctors now recognize hospital-stay induced delirium among the elderly -- and (wow!) even see that it can lead to dementia or death. And we read an AARP Bulletin 'human interest' story about a woman who escaped from a nursing home, where she had been placed after discharge from a hospital. >>> Read more . . .