Four Recent Technologies for Aging in Place - Sept 2013

Rounding up the recent technology launches – tech for older adults.  Catching up, here are few recent announcements from in-market companies.  A brief digression: I get a bit upset when I read about companies in the news that are  described as offering "SOLUTIONS" about products that are not ready, products for which they could be taking pre-orders, but basically there is nothing to buy. This is especially unfortunate in the category of PERS, where consumers expect a solution can address a fear of falling and being left alone. It is especially NOT okay for products that target the senior housing industry, where the residents may be very frail, where the companies are very cautious, and the industry is not known for leading with tech of any type, let alone one that is so new that it cannot be purchased.  So here are four new offerings – it is my belief/hope that all are available -- preventing a few others from being on the list. Content is from the vendors’ press information: >>> Read more . . .

The Wireless Health market is ginormous -- so forecasters say

Our bodies, our forecasts.  It's exciting. Mythical John X Wannabe will soon go to market with a wearable device – the “XLife Preserver” – designed to lower hospital costs, improve health, and entertain. It looks a bit like a Fitbit and mini television combined, and is worn clipped to a waist band or belt. It beeps every time a vehicle John is driving exceeds the lowest-available regional speed limit. It chirps when John steps off the curb to cross the street, screeches when John’s shoes are untied, and mumbles "Uh, oh" when he forgets to eat breakfast. When no one is looking, he can even unclip it and watch past episodes of House of Cards, read his e-mail, or check into Foursquare. >>> Read more . . .

Can someone do this -- make a usable smart phone for seniors?

Two phones in the news today attempt to boost smartphone ownership among seniors.  Pew’s most recent smartphone utilization among the 65+ market in the US is still below 20%. There are two new entrants which -- on the surface -- seem unlikely to help. One of them is sold only in Japan and the other crashed during a test published in today's Wall Street Journal. For the former, the New York Times noted that the Fujitsu Raku-Raku ("easy easy") cell phone sold 20 million handsets in Japan over the past decade, with 10 million of them still in use. In partnership with telecom provider Orange, the company will introduce the Fujitsu Stylistic S01 smartphone into France – its first attempt to export outside of Japan -- and so far not available in the US market. This Raku-Raku smartphone handset has features that US manufacturers should adopt – firmer press required to select a dialing digit, brightening the screen for use in sunlight, a button to text GPS coordinates to get help, and (imagine that!) training on how to use the phones. Meanwhile, Doro has sold 4 million of its feature phone senior handsets and will soon offer more smartphones. >>> Read more . . .

When we're 84 -- considering the AARP Care Gap research

AARP’s Care Gap report sets the table for innovation possibilities.  Driven purely by population changes over the next several decades, AARP predicts that there will be fewer people in the age group (45-64) that can provide care to the baby boomer population when aged 80+.  Based on this model, says the report, boomers at that age will likely have various disabilities and thus may need some level of care. What technology categories would be useful and likely in-market with this multi-year lead time to think about them?  Of course, today there are millions of people who are 80+, but if you follow AARP’s logic, today there seem to be enough available family members, home care, nursing home and assisted living aides between the ages of 45 and 64 to care for them (emphasis on available). If caregiving availability shrinks, what are the technology implications for those who would serve that future wave of baby boomers? >>> Read more . . .

Will Digital Health help close the Care Gap?

Now that you know what Digital Health is, are you feeling better? Rant on: In my search for knowledge this morning, I watched a short graphical video provided by the founder, Paul Sonnier, of the LinkedIn Group called Digital Health. I watched to learn something and help shed light on one of the greatest mumbo-jumbo terminology taxonomies since the launch of three letter acronyms (TLAs) that were sported by IT professionals in the 70s and 80s. This fast-paced explanatory video was, naturally, titled "What is Digital Health?" Since there is no room for additional synonyms in the taxonomy entry on my blog, it was important for me to check it out. >>> Read more . . .

Decline of median income stats are in – will anybody notice the 65+?

Consider the data, check elsewhere, and discard this report. This kind of thing catches my eye. You know by now which single age demographic income group saw a statistically significant increase in median income since the recession (supposedly) ended in 2007. The New York Times helpfully tells us – it was those 65-74 folk. Says the Times insightfully: “helped perhaps by the decision of some older workers to remain in the work force or re-enter it.”  A long way down in the article, we learn that the 5.1 percent increase for those 65-74 put them at a median income of $43,000 -- the national median rose to $52,100 in June -- even though in many cases the head of the household was retired. Guess those 65+ must be doing okay. >>> Read more . . .

For tech marketers -- functionality matters more than demographics

Life marches on – at the older end, baby boomers are on Medicare. A few years ago when I began writing this blog, a senior was a senior – 65+, albeit with the potential for a very long life. As boomers stomp into Medicare eligibility at 10,000 per day, they too have something in common with seniors. But we don’t describe them as seniors. (How funny will that be in 10 years when they are 77?) Anyway, in a world in which women outlive men, in which there is so much buying power in the so-called world of baby boomers, shouldn’t marketers get really excited about marketing to boomers? I mean they represent 80 million people.  And according to the Forbes article about the Longevity Economy, the disposable income for Americans aged 50+ was more than $3 trillion. Hint, 50+ is the AARP designation for its membership and spans age 50 through the oldest old. Luckily, the youngest boomer aged 49 turns 50 next year – synchronizing boomers and AARP. >>> Read more . . .

Crisis avoidance with web cameras and other technology – why not?

Why wait for a crisis to decide to deploy web cameras in senior care?  Did you know that, according to the Administration on Aging, this  is the year of elder abuse prevention? Perhaps it should be the year for webcam deployment in all senior care settings, especially now that that the Frontline story aimed an investigative spotlight at assisted living. So I heard a story this week about an elderly person abused by a home care worker – not surprising, really, when a care recipient is frail and no one is around except the care provider.  The family subsequently placed a web camera in the home.  According to a family member, it was quite a deterrent for the subsequent hires, made aware from the start about its presence. Plus, it was as an enabler for day-time check-ins while an adult daughter was at work.  So why aren’t web cameras ubiquitous in senior care settings – especially to observe care activities like entrances and exits of workers when residents are less mobile, in bed or stranded in wheelchairs? Your opinions are welcome: >>> Read more . . .

The Village Movement -- as it grows, grow the tech depth as well

Beacon Hill Village created a concept out of need...  Last week a PBS broadcast was dedicated to the topic of aging in place within the pioneer community of the ‘Village’ movement – Beacon Hill Village, launched 12 years ago by Judy Willett to help seniors stay in their homes longer. That’s not a small trick if you consider that Beacon Hill is a neighborhood of steep cobblestone streets, no easy-in subway stop, and --- argggh – every year, residents – most are in their 70’s -- must cope with winter! Today Beacon Hill Village has 400 members who benefit from aggregated services that include "social clubs, weekly exercise classes and lectures, transportation to doctors’ offices and grocery stores, and access to reduced-fee home medical care and home repair services." >>> Read more . . .

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 . . .

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