March 2012

ASA’s Aging in America: so much talk about tech – so little tech

A plethora of sessions -- but where are the exhibitors?  For the past few days at ASA’s Aging in America, I heard various speakers talk about the importance of technology for older adults -- I babbled on about it a bit myself. It will make this the ‘age to age’, learn to ‘love the device you’re with’, so that you can attend sessions about designing technology for older adults, learn about tech training for seniors, see what's coming and who is doing what. The many sessions that discussed technology were categorized in the program book as ‘Housing, accessibility and technology’ – so I wondered how many consumer-focused tech vendor exhibitors were in the exhibit hall. I reasoned that all of these aging services professionals would want to know about all of the useful software and devices that they could refer to clients to improve their quality of life. Not counting the back office systems (the ERPs of aging services), I looked through the book and show floor, searching for tech to connect older adults with professionals, families and caregivers. And there it wasn’t. >>> Read more . . .

Aging in Place -- Redefined and ready to be reshaped by boomers and beyond

Wikipedia tells it like it is, not like it was.  For a brief period in the history of the definition of Aging in Place, the term was really a continuing care concept. CCRC messaging has tried to link the definition more closely with the ability to remain on a campus of independent, assisted living and skilled nursing – but I don’t think consumers view the CCRC portfolio as aging in place. In 2011, AARP issued its 2011 state-by-state report on age friendliness for remaining at home. The CDC too has been refining definitions to keep up with the times, acknowledging the National Aging in Place Council and universal design principles. Today, aging in place is almost completely disassociated from continuing care retirement communities and the senior housing industry.  In fact, as a recent Senior Housing News article observed, it is a movement encompassing active aging, livable communities, universal design principles, villages, NORCs, etc. that threatens the very structure of the senior housing. >>> Read more . . .

Overcoming inertia in tech adoption -- create something new for the user

Are Health and senior tech products used consistently and to purpose?  When the ultimate user is not necessarily an enthusiastic participant in product use, forget it. Consider the factors noted in Donna Cusano’s recent Field of Dreams post on Telecare Aware, summarized by: “Know you need/want the product. Okay, then it must be Easy to use, providing positive reinforcement (with social and community support) – and I would add, affordable. 1) Ease of use (let’s also assume that the product works!), 2) reinforcement, 3) affordable. Pick two, you can’t have all three. (Note I didn’t say pet-rock trendy, much loved by Walt Mossberg and shown off in coffee shops.) >>> Read more . . .

The gift of aging rich -- and unaware of available services

The gifts of aging are bitter – now there’s a generalization. Rant on. The title and sub-heading in the Times caught my eye. Age and Its Awful Discontents and sub-heading "Is there anything good about getting old? No. Its gifts are bitter.”  The article was Louis Begley’s gloomy reminiscence about his mother and his abhorrence of the 'ravages and suffering inflicted on the body by age and illness.' You wonder, why 'awful,' why 'discontent,' and 'bitter'?  Well, it turns out that his mother was very lonely in her last decade (she died at age 94). "She couldn’t hear well, she had arthritis, too proud for a wheelchair, couldn’t get the hang of a walker, stopped even going to museums, concerts, or sitting on a park bench." Today the 78-year-old Begley feels the "full measure and anguish of his mother’s solitude and that of other old people who end their lives without a companion." It’s too bad Jane Gross and her New Old Age blog wasn’t around (that launched in 2008). Mr. Begley might have read about how other adult children coped (and helped) aging parents. Or he might have hired a geriatric care manager, around since the 1980's. It’s really too bad that despite plenty of money, neither he nor his mother had the inclination to look for ways to maintain the quality of her life. >>> Read more . . .

STOP, LOOK, LISTEN before your senior-focused prototype drawing dries

Entering a tech market to help seniors.  You want to help seniors -- you have a personal story about your grandmother. You are trying to decide whether your product for older adults warrants your time and devotion. This is not an easy decision, as you watch every thingamabob, it seems, launch into the market of tech for young folks either in website (Pinterist?) or gadget form (LunaTik Nano Watchband?). You wonder what you’re doing in the senior space; you’re not sure, but this seems NOT to be a gadget market. If someone were to ask you why that is the case, can you answer?

Yo Robot! How about those senior housing applications?

Personal service robots are out and about. So we’ve been talking about personal care robots for a long time – including the social engagement use of Paro the robotic seal, studied and re-studied at MIT. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal ran an article about a rented robot ($3000) to liven up a party.  Looking like a vacuum cleaner extension with eyes, it roved around a wedding on Segway-like wheels, presenting a movable and real-time image of an the groom’s 82-year-old mother who was physically unable to attend. Finally, a viable example of a robot in the service of an older adult! >>> Read more . . .

Protect seniors from anonymous companies, products and services

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.  Although the cartoonist did not intend it, that 1993 New Yorker cartoon predicted the future and so it came to pass – and then some. So much of what’s on the web masks an entirely different reality. And so little when you search online has anything to do with what you want to find. Most people do not scroll down to the second page of search results if irrelevance rules: the Internet is filled with an ocean of junk web pages and misleading ads, masquerading as legitimate commerce. Talk to our friendly representative (photo of woman wearing headset). Call NOW! As seen on TV! As mentioned in TIME Magazine! Misleading information or scare tactic pictures on websites targeting seniors -- to me, these rank with phony telephone credit card and financial services scams. >>> Read more . . .

Five consumer technologies that should be in every senior housing unit

Overcoming tech inertia in senior housing.  Andrew Carle, founder of George Mason University’s senior housing administrator program, was interviewed by Senior Housing News on the labor-saving benefits of technology use. That he felt compelled to suggest that technology was both an opportunity and a threat was interesting. But is the low penetration of a variety of technologies more about inertia on the part of management and lack of insistence by families who are fearful of making waves? Residents and families would be able to participate in a richer living experience if senior housing organizations overcame their inertia and offered: >>> Read more . . .