August 2013

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 . . .

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 . . .