Social networks are too immature -- let's wait for the upgrade

Has social networking exploded among seniors? What should you think when you read that 43% of the 65+ (n= 356) are using social networking sites? So let’s get real -- that likely means Facebook, even though Pew wanted to throw in Twitter (and also LinkedIn and Google+). Today, 5% of the 65+ use Twitter and there's always a marketer who thinks one of the other new pet rock tools would be a good way to reach boomers.  But as of 2012, few seniors were using Pinterest, Tumblr, or Instagram.  So do you get excited and want to start marketing your senior products through Facebook ads? Stay calm -- we don't even know what 'using' means. Wolfram Alpha recently published a study – summarized in this article – about Facebook usage – 1 million Facebook users have opted in to let them look at this anonymous but interesting data set. While admittedly, this is a fraction of the Facebook population, one of their conclusions was: "Stacked against the U.S. Census, the age distribution on Facebook is extremely skewed toward younger people." Duh, no kidding. Good thing, too -- lurking on Facebook may not be so good for our mental health -- although some recommend it as a way for older adults to reduce loneliness. >>> Read more . . .

Why not apply Federal Regulations to Assisted Living?

When the lights go on – much becomes visible. Warning – rant on. I have to ask, what do you think is the biggest fear of the Assisted Living industry? Is it PBS and documentaries about their industry?  No, many have rationalized their own organizations or will be contemplating new ways to manage bad publicity and thus prepared, they moved on. Lawsuits? They are certainly an issue – and cost time and potentially substantial amount of money. But risk managers and lawyers are around to help avert through policy and procedures, training, etc.  No – the real and pervasive fear of the industry is federal regulation. And how hard they work to avoid it at all and enormous cost – lobbying is vigilant and continuous to ensure that the industry remains within the regulatory (and wildly varying) domains of the states. >>> Read more . . .

PBS shines a bright light on Assisted Living – will change follow?

By now, you’ve probably heard about or seen it.  PBS’ Frontline and ProPublica spent a year researching care, life and wrongful deaths in the largest of assisted living companies, Emeritus Senior Living. After the broadcast, some honest self-examination, but also those expected positioning statements and self-righteous comments emerged from Emeritus, industry observers, plus defensive responses from the industry lobbying leaders – ALFA and Leading Age. Larry Minnix (Leading Age) tells ALF executives to ask themselves, “What are your staffing levels?” Indeed. And we should ask as well. What should they be in an AL memory unit? He doesn’t say. Read the Frontline attached interview with a regulatory agency CEO -- and how variations across state boundaries can be justified. Really. So shouldn't facilities be shut down after horrible incidents like these? Remember the Miami Herald series Neglected to Death? Not just one company (as in the Frontline story) but many organizations, large and small, throughout Florida, not just one incident but multiple. As with many incidents, company growth may slow a bit, organizations may consolidate under new ownership or new names, but rarely are they shut down. >>> Read more . . .

Healthcare has too much tech focus, too little benefit to seniors

It’s a new era – patient engagement – but does that include seniors? According to a recent health journal article, welcome to the era of patient engagement. What’s that?  “Empowering patients to actively process information, decide how that information fits into their lives, and act on those decisions is a key driver to improving care and reducing costs.” Like many of the heavily-invested Health IT improvements over the years, patient engagement strategies offer the industry a feel-good approach to preaching to and reaching the converted – those tech-enabled individuals with a fetish for looking stuff up and tracking it (see Google Health). Ah, but those with the least access to technology may need the most engagement -- they're not likely to peer at their patient portals. At last Pew count only 13% of the 65+ even looked online for information as a diagnostic tool. And fewer than half of those followed up with a medical professional based on what they found. >>> Read more . . .

Looking back: What happened with those tech predictions?

Let’s reflect on the market of tech for older adults. In December, 2011, a number of assertions were made about the future – as we move forward, let’s look back and examine if these predictions came to pass, or if they were more fantasy and hope.Those predictions opined that mobile devices would become more important and cut into the house-bound tech market. And tablets and smart phones are transforming multiple tech markets that impact seniors and their families – including apps and senior-specialized PCs, feature phones, and even game consoles like the Wii.  Consider the specifics: >>> Read more . . .

Why free software costs us time and time again

See the new features in THIS upgrade – now go forth and suffer!  I admit it. I am one of the millions of Android phone users. That makes me something of a glutton for Google-induced pain. This week, I was trying to provide helpful navigation assistance in downtown Boston, where any navigational aid is a blessing. I discovered that Maps and its associated and fast-talking Nav app were somehow upgraded -- and thus rendered mysterious. Maps still works – if you don't mind two crashes, the third startup is a charm. But it now has an unrecognizable set of icons and hidden options – and Nav is no longer a separate app. Sadly, I was not helpful navigating. Later I learn from the angry hordes on the Android forums that there is an Uninstall option to enable return to the previous version. And further research reveals a setting for the aptly named Google Play Store -- Do not auto-update apps. For good reason. The default is, naturally, the reverse. >>> Read more . . .

Who should monitor the quality of apps for boomers, seniors, and caregivers?

Five Market Overview versions later -- let's recap.  Launching a business venture takes excessive confidence -- or an extreme lack of common sense. Four years ago, after 7 months of random ranting in a blog, an awkwardly-titled Aging in Place Technology Watch analyst business was launched at the 2009 What’s Next Boomer Business Summit. Both of those were in conjunction with posting and promoting an initial report -- Technology for Aging in Place Market Overview (2009).  Now more than four years later, an updated version has been posted on this site. The press release titled "The Longevity Economy Goes Mobile" is ready -- and so there's time for a bit of reflection. Since 2009, how much has changed: the environment in which technologies are discovered and utilized is radically different. Entrenched social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al. make it different; the rise of smart phones and tablets as platforms, so different; and the rise and fall and rise of crowd-funding make starting up a company very different; boatloads of blog sites offering a cacaphony of tidbits also makes learning about new technology difficult -- and different. >>> Read more . . .

Searching in vain for quality: apps on iTunes and Google Play Store

How the mighty app has crumbled into a tiny, trashy bucket of bits.  Yesterday I spent time wading through smart phone and tablet app descriptions that sounded like they are for caregivers on iTunes and the Google Play Store.  That is, the word 'caregiver' could be found in the description. The reviewers and links of many of these so-called apps are revealing: "this app crashes my phone" or "server error" and other less printable descriptions forced me to move on. Looking for a link to a developer website?  Hmmm. Are you looking for a phone # to call about a so-called service? There’s only a Contact Us Form – no e-mail address, no phone # -- really, what we mean is don't contact us -- we have no budget for answering e-mail or the phone. At the end of the day, a few were found that will be in the 2013 Market Overview published later this week on this website. These are firms that I believe are reachable, are not trashed in reviews and oh, they just might run on smart phones or tablets! >>> Read more . . .

Studies of seniors are funded and ready to prove what we know

Studies are the pre-requisite for product introduction and change. One of the conundrums of our society is that institutional change is typically made possible by the presence of studies cited to verify that the change should be made. These studies can demonstrate that a product is safe until it is proven otherwise. For example, studies of drug efficacy by drug companies (even with overstated favorable outcomes) are the basis of approval and introduction into the market; studies about automobile safety (funded by car manufacturers) have preceded introduction of safety features, and so on. Other studies about older adults, however, raise the question of whether studies are structured (or at least described in the press) to embark on proving that our common sense is, well, sensible. For example: >>> Read more . . .

Family caregivers wanted mobile caregiving apps – they’ve got them now

Caregivers could see the future of mobile apps – and it came to pass.  A few years ago, the National Alliance for Caregiving and United Health Group published a study, conducted during 2010, called the e-Connected Family Caregiver: Bringing Caregiving into the 21st Century, which surveyed family caregivers about their propensity to use any of 12 different technologies to help them with their caregiving responsibilities. The conclusion: "two-thirds of family caregivers who have used some form of technology to help them with caregiving believe web-based and mobile technologies designed to facilitate caregiving would be helpful to them." But as KHN noted below, it's the wild west for (40,000!) smart phone apps -- doctors are suggesting, but not yet prescribing apps for the e-Connected caregiver: >>> Read more . . .

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