July 2012

Who's watching Mom -- and what is watching the watchers?

Variable care, yes, but no tech in home care.  The NY Times recently published a blog post about the variability of oversight and quality among the unregulated non-medical agency-based home care industry.  Among the many stressed-out comments and observations from readers (“we too had poor home care quality, how awful”), none suggested that this industry should (or will) have oversight technologies injected into it of any type. Yet, according to this just-published Future of Home Care Technology 2012 report, maybe augmenting a labor-intensive industry with just a little bit of overseeing and communication technology is seen by industry insiders as a good idea -- someday. >>> Read more . . .

Five new technologies for aging in place

Rounding up from a series of press releases over the past two months, here are some new technologies and/or services that may be new to you, for use by or in support of older adults.  All material is from the vendor published information:

Securus, Inc. offers the eCare+Voice Mobile Medical Alert System.  "eCare+Voice was designed to enable active seniors to live confidently and independently. It is a one-­‐of-­‐a-­‐kind, compact emergency phone that connects users with the Securus Emergency Care Center via two-­‐way voice communication, just by pressing the alert button. Unlike other medical alert devices, eCare+Voice is fully self-­‐contained and works indoors and outdoors, anywhere in the US, with a powerful microphone and speaker built directly into the unit. The eCare+Voice unit has a long-­‐lasting battery and can be recharged using a cord-­‐free, inductive charging pad."  Learn more at SecurusGPS.com. >>> Read more . . .

Alpha Geek caregivers and health apps -- really?

Who knew that Alpha Geek caregivers may be interested in health startups?  Pew’s just-out research publication, Family Caregivers Online, prompted a column in tech pub Gigaom to suggest that health startups should market to Alpha Geek caregivers. These front-running tech types give us a sense of 'what the future will be like.' There are so many mutually exclusive words (health startup, caregiver, alpha Geek) in that phrase that it begs for analysis.  Let’s start with the Pew data: 30% of adults play some sort of caregiving role, and eight in ten of these caregivers have access to the Internet, making them ‘online caregivers,’ the majority of whom look for health information more often than online users who are not caregivers.  No kidding. This reinforced and is roughly consistent with the National Alliance for Caregiving report of similar in 2009. >>> Read more . . .

Put the human back into engineering

The product user interface of today can madden the seniors of tomorrow.  I am looking at the console of a Volvo right now. Mulling over the SOURCE/Push Scan knob -- turn it to switch from FM to AM, PUSH it to SCAN the channels, PUSH again to stop scanning.  This is an eight-year-old car, and it took most of the first few years of perusing the owner’s manual to figure out how to use the radio (PTY, TP, NEWS buttons I’ve left untouched). But brand new cars have achieved a new level. Just starting up a newer car -- never mind the radio -- requires a long training session, watching the sales rep, taking notes. For one car expert I know, it was not clear how to get a brand new, automatic transmission BMW out of PARK -- without instruction.  >>> Read more . . .

Should tech support disconnect from retail?

Waiting for the Geek or someone like him.  So you probably noticed that Best Buy (in its never-ending cost-cutting downward slide) just laid off 1200 store employees and while they were at it, they also cut 600 Geek Squad employees.  Just when the AARP discount on in-home services was launched! But it is all part of moving the staff from “repair to relationship,” migrating to a smaller store format, away from so-called ‘big box’ and suffering from competition – from Wal-Mart, Costco, and Sears. Yeah, right. From Sears and Costco (only when in-home service is covered by manufacturer’s warranty and the product is not a Dell).  Let us remember that Best Buy’s Geek service charges $49.99 for in-home visits and that they include products you bought elsewhere -- I'm betting your plumber charges more than that.  The annual membership for this service is quite low -- $199.99 per year -- $17/month or $4.25 per week. >>> Read more . . .

The death of landlines – woe to seniors who depend on them

Bad weather, no power, misery all around.  So by now you may know that there was a major storm that generated (besides rain and lightning) outages in the greater Washington, DC area that brought Amazon and Netflix down for a while, and knocked out Internet, TV, cellular and landline access (including E911) for several million people – and for several days.  For 1 in 4 people, it will be a few more days before the various utilities get everything running again. You also know that only 56% of those aged 76+ have a cell phone and that seniors have been the last to give up landlines.   >>> Read more . . .