A not-so-complimentary NY Times hands-on review of the AARP RealPad.
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Differentiating assistive technologies and aging in place
But if you are thinking about technologies that enable seniors to remain in their home, we've got an overlapping set of technologies that imply a marketing dilemma for vendors. Should they target the elderly able-bodied? Or the frail elderly at risk of future disability (and institutionalization). Consider this list from Gilbert Guide: “Smart home” (a home that uses automated technology) can also incorporate responsive and preventative systems, including an incontinence monitor, a respiration monitor, an inactivity monitor that would notify emergency services if someone is idle for too long, and activities of daily living tracking systems that use sensors to identify habitual tasks. The systems establish a norm of activity to identify potentially dangerous deviations from this norm."
Smart homes seem to tip the emphasis of product offering into an area that equates to an insurance plan for protection, not necessarily a compensatory environment for existing limitations. Clearly smart homes are not going to be covered by insurance. But who will buy smart home capabilities? This is where councils on aging are missing in action. Funded by private donations and local communities, they attract seniors who want to participate in their activities, learn about services, and enjoy the community and company of others. But I am willing to bet that virtually none of them are regular advocates for altering homes to accomodate future limitations, and I am nearly certain that they don't hand out a list of promising or available technologies noted above or devices for medication management, or other home monitoring. Maybe because participants aren't aware or interested? Unless there is fear, uncertainty, and doubt (as with long-term care insurance), healthy individuals just aren't going to be interested -- so others will have to help them understand, evaluate, and acquire. Now, how to educate councils on aging?