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Differentiating assistive technologies and aging in place

Assistive technology spans a number of devices to compensate for the inability to do a task that otherwise is difficult, including medication management, stair lifts, keyless door entry systems, etc. 

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?

Comments

Aloha,

As the Chairman of the Maui County Council on Aging. I agree that Councils on Aging across the USA need more education on aging in place technologies (AIPT).

Our community is slowly recognizing the important role that AIPT can and must play as the age wave descends upon us.

I also believe that baby boomers are the most likely early adopters of AIPT as they deal with the caregiving needs and their growing realization that they must prepare now for their own aging in place needs.

With this in mind, www.mauiagewave.com is seeking funding for an innovative learning program which will educate baby baby boomers about the ABCs of aging in place including: The Role of AIPT, Caregiver Navigation, In-home Health and Wellness devices ( e.g. prescription compliance, vital signs monitoring,
internet-based video connections between patients, familiy caregivers and healthcare providers, Personal Health Records, Smart Home sensors and alarms, et al)and Access-Ability and Visitability home design and remodeling.

We greatly appreciate, therefore, your informative and insightful blog which helps us keep up with the rapidly growing and expanding field of aging in place with technology.

Thank you,

peter@mauiagewave.com

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