November 2008

Websites should help close gap of (male) caregiver isolation

I was surprised at an article in today's Times that offered no solutions to the problem it raised: that more men take the lead in caring for their elderly parents.  From the article: "The Alzheimer’s Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving estimate that men make up nearly 40 percent of family care providers now, up from 19 percent in a 1996 study by the Alzheimer’s Association. About 17 million men are caring for an adult."  Isolation affects women as well, but men tend to have fewer lifelines, said Donna Benton, an assistant research professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California and director of the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Network. Men are less likely to have friends going through similar experiences, and depend more on their jobs for daily human contact." >>> Read more . . .

Distance grandparenting with webcams

So if you are a baby boomer and want to imagine your long-distance grandparenting experience (assuming it hasn't already begun), here's the scenario. The New York times has a Thanskgiving-appropriate article today about grandparents staying 'close' to their grandchildren through PC-mounted webcams -- using Skype and iChat, along with a link to a blog discussion about Web cams and grandparenting. >>> Read more . . .

Preloaded iPods for Seniors

This article about taking seniors to a Christmas orchestra concert was a bit depressing. It made me think about all the seniors who can't get into or out of this or any other bus -- or who are unlikely to be asked to go to a concert. It especially reminded me of my late mother who had Alzheimer's and spent her last six years in a nursing home. >>> Read more . . .

ALFs or NORCs -- From a housing crisis to a current business opportunity?

Juxtapose this.  1) There's a modest trend towards Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), which are communities in which volunteers or paid teams organize ways to provide assistance to seniors who want to or need to stay in their homes. There are 2000 NORCs in the US today, according to the WSJ article.  2) Now according to this Times article, consider that many elderly people can't sell their homes right now and therefore are unable to move into assisted living facilities (ALFs) as they might wish. These elderly people need some assistance and their children are understandably worried about them.

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Is monitoring the house the right first step to monitoring well-being of seniors?

The home monitoring market for seniors is a potentially converging set of product vendors, some with medical interests and origins that may over time be marketed for use in advance of medical need -- these include HealthHero, Honeywell HomMed, Dovetail Health (even linking to nurse monitoring). Some like QuietCare and Grandcare in the middle, are primarily targeting assisted and independent living caregiving (where seniors may prefer to live) and some approach from the security angle, like Alarm.com's partnership with SafetyCare -- linking to EMTs, Xanboo, or Monitronics. Perhaps they will later add more medical monitoring. >>> Read more . . .

Presto Connect -- from printing mailbox to communication platform?

 

Presto, the printing mailbox company has broader possibilities as a platform for caregivers to configure reminders -- as evidenced by its new service PrestoConnect. A digression: I've always admired when innovators extrapolate new markets from an initial product launch. Although this strategy doesn't always work, the history of technology has some compelling examples, often based on the actual usage of a product for purposes other than what it was originally intended. Think about the many applications for GPS or a vision of extension possibilities, like Amazon, that that the vendor can enable with help from partners.  And the aging in place market is a fertile field for extrapolation -- since those who are aging represent a rolling market -- with changing expectations over time. Vendors must be nimble and think outside of their own box, so to speak. >>> Read more . . .

Brain fitness software market -- consumer fear and hope outpace research

A market research firm, SharpBrains, which bills itself as "The Brain Fitness Authority," has posted a product evaluation checklist for determining whether a brain or cognitive fitness software product  is the 'right' product for you. By the way, SharpBrains estimates this software market was $225 million in 2007. You, in that checklist, could be an individual consumer using Nintendo's Brain Age or a professional trying to improve the cognitive health of Alzheimer's or dementia sufferers -- like Alzheimer's Australia has done with technology from Posit Science. >>> Read more . . .

Clarity Life C900, an amplified cell phone/PERS for seniors

Move over, Jitterbug. An intriguing new cell phone announcement popped up on my screen this week that could -- with some in-your-face marketing -- give the cell phone super marketer some competition in the senior cell phone market.

The Clarity C900 is both an amplified cell phone and PERS device.  Here's the gist of the announcement: "Clarity, a leading supplier of communications solutions for older Americans, today released the ClarityLife(R) C900(TM), an easy-to-use amplified mobile phone that doubles as an emergency response device.Seniors can place or receive calls with the ClarityLife C900, retailing for $269.95 by using four oversized buttons on the front of the phone which allow them to easily navigate their top contacts. They also can use a full slide-out keypad with large numbers. Furthermore, the C900's screen is twice the size of a normal phone with magnified text and bright back-lighting."" We spoke with Jamie van den Bergh, VP of marketing at Clarity, to learn more. >>> Read more . . .

Change behavior with information - more from Connected Health (5 of 5)

Adam Bosworth is a long-time tech veteran who co-founded Google and Google Health) and CEO of a to-be-launched company 'to help people engage in their own health' Keas.  He noted that since lifestyles are dramatically worse than they were in 1986 (only one state has no significant problem with obesity), by 2030, there will be 76 million people on Medicare.  His theory -- obesity is killing us and responsible for a $500 billion chunk of the nation's $2.3 trillion in healthcare costs. >>> Read more . . .

Why choice architecture matters - more from Connected Health (4 of 5)

Professor Cass Sunstein, Professor at Harvard Law School, an articulate if somewhat low-key speaker, introduced (from his book “Nudge”) the concept of Libertarian Paternalism which utilizes 'choice architecture'. He describes libertarian paternalism as follows: "The libertarian aspect of the approach lies in the straightforward insistence that, in general, people should be free to do what they like. They should be permitted to opt out of arrangements they dislike, and even make a mess of their lives if they want to. The paternalistic aspect acknowledges that it is legitimate for choice architects to try to influence people's behavior in order to make their lives longer, healthier and better." >>> Read more . . .

Healthcare will be consumer-driven - more from Connected Health (3 of 5)

We are headed to a Consumer-Driven Healthcare Market that is personalized and integrated, with connected healthcare lifting limits of demand and job lock, staying in a job in order to retain health insurance -- so says Regina Herzlinger, Professor, Harvard Business School and author of Who Killed Healthcare? Her predictions: First and foremost, employers will cash you out of your job-locking employer-based system into a consumer-based market, where you buy you own health insurance. >>> Read more . . .

Information gravitates to trust -- more from Connected Health (2 of 5)

The session topic: Social Networks, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, delivered byClay Sharkey (Author, Consultant, and Professor at NYU). Clay Sharkey pointed out the fallacy of ‘trusted systems.’ Instead, he noted that information goes to where the trust is – using examples of how e-mail replaced the original purpose of the Internet -- Telnet and FTP -- within 3 months of its existence. >>> Read more . . .

Healthcare consumers online -- more from Connected Health (1 of 5)

[Here is the first of five excerpts from notes I took at Connected Health Symposium in Boston a few weeks ago]

Susannah Fox from Pew Internet Life Project, talked about participatory medicine. From their research, she noted that three-fourths of American adults are online, 50% of households have broadband and 80% of net users look online for health information. The availability of source and date of information is not correlated with information quality or lack thereof, so even though information online is not vetted, there are very few bad outcomes related to the net. “Healthcare is stuck in a broadcast world and ‘ePatients’ are looking for the “mouse” so they can interact with it.” >>> Read more . . .

Brain wellness software

I love the idea of 'brain wellness'!  Don't we all want our brains to be well? Exercising them right along with our calf raises and seated arm curls.  But how? And with what? We certainly know that web surfing helps but there is an entire product range out there from game workstations and technology, but also software that is purely for improving mind health and vigor. >>> Read more . . .

Online resources for older workers seeking jobs

Part of being able to age in place involved being able to continue to contribute to society, one dimension of which is to be able to work. I've long thought one of the more attractive programs for this is one run by CVS to encourage pharmacists to keep working by being able to split the workyear into two 6-month blocks, one in a Florida CVS, and one up north. >>> Read more . . .

A checklist for living independently, a framework for AIP technologies and services?

I just saw a checklist on caring.com for helping adult children who worried about aging parents and whether they should stay in their own homes. For those thinking about these issues, there is plenty of advice on the site that can deepen thinking and identify ways to help. >>> Read more . . .

Connected Health could make you a bit sick

You'd think a symposium on 'connected health', a Boston conference with 1000 attendees that included investors (who warned that there was going to be a bloodbath of failed startups) as well as vendors and tech-aware doctors would be inspiring, but the actual experience was quite the opposite. >>> Read more . . .