A not-so-complimentary NY Times hands-on review of the AARP RealPad.
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Five small indicators of trends in aging in place technology
Times are bad. Agreed. But here are a few items that are a reminder that marketers will market and enterpreneurs will seize an opportunity when they see one. Taken individually, these items may seem unrelated. But together, they confirm the growing interest in hleping people get more out of life as they age, and they clearly represent business opportunities in a less-than-ideal business climate. Tell me if you agree:
- Startup to assess and help seniors stay at home. This caught my eye in a Gerobabble blog post -- two young women out of the Berkeley school of health are developing a business plan around ways to keep seniors in their homes -- and they are out 'road-testing' their strategies with free assessments in the Bay area. In the assessment, which includes safety, needed maintenance, they are "also looking at setting up technology to keep them connected to their family."
- Senior Wii Nation. Tennessee-based sports and business entrepreneur Catherine Masters has launched Senior Wii Nation, which organizes Wii games, sells T-shirts, vitamin supplements and encourages seniors to start franchises around the country. The Wii has rocked the senior center and sales, creating a hook for fitness classes, competitions, and marketing paraphenelia. As this Bloomberg article notes, last year, 26% of people over the age of 50 play video games, the number is expected to rise again this year. And researchers are seeking grants to study the health benefits.
- Geriatric care management training includes use of technology. How do I know? I am taking the course. It was originally developed at San Francisco State University and is now offered at the University of Florida. The book is Care Managers: Working with the Aging Family -- and includes a detailed chapter about technology and long-distance caregiving, written by Julie Menack of Sage Eldercare Solutions, a San Francisco geriatric care management services company. Topics covered include the use of video conferencing, eletronic pillboxes, home monitoring, and printing mailboxes.
- It's never too late to learn about computers. So it's never too late to learn about IN2L, a company founded in 1999 to bring computer systems into assisted living, nursing homes and help train seniors in ALFs and nursing homes, and regardless of disability or physical limitation, to use computers. GenerationsOnline -- same mission. Also take a look at Big Screen Live, and SoftShell -- both of which started within the past year. SoftShell offers a testimonial video interviewing seniors in a retirement home about their computer-discover experience that I found particularly charming.
- Non traditional retirement communities take off. So it's clear that folks (especially young seniors and boomers) see virtual villages and 'NORCs' as described in this USA Today blog, as one plan-ahead approach to helping them out with services they may need in the future. So this creates an opportunity for technology services in the home. And as Jack Herndon, one of the founding board members of a new one, San Francisco Village -- there is also an opportunity for a well-designed process and a software platform to manage all of the services. I think of it as ERP for NORCs, but that's just me.
Call me a geek-eyed optimist, but taken together, these look to me like indicators that technology can help people age more successfully in any place and that those who want to market, service, and sell will find channels to reach them.