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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

Monthly blog archive

A case for cameras -- augmenting the view of small assisted living

Should video monitoring be required in small assisted living homes?  In recent Senate testimony, ALFA president Rick Grimes sounded a bit defensive about the regulatory oversight of assisted living facilities (ALFs) in Florida (aka 'group homes' in other states). Let's back up: Even when multiple residents died of abuse and neglect and inspections revealed multiple violations, the Agency for Health Care Administration didn’t close these troubled small homes down. Says Mr. Grimes: regulation in all fifty states (aka 50 different sets of regulations) is plenty adequate, and by the way, each state’s seniors are ‘different’ -- the Florida deaths were due to ‘management’ issues.

Recently Announced Technologies for Aging in Place

It’s a few months before CES 2012 and a flurry of new product announcements will soon flutter out leading up to and including the Silvers Summit and Digital Health events in Las Vegas. Ahead of those to-be-determined announcements, other companies (and one core technology) have announced offerings worth noting that can help seniors and/or caregivers of seniors and deserve a heads-up to learn more via the links below. Information here is quoted from the press or vendor announcement:

Aging in Place Technology Watch October 2011 Newsletter

AT&T -- the senior wireless provider for apps and devices for an aging population?   Were you surprised to read the Forbes article about AT&T's non-phone wireless network, the largest with 14 million connected devices? Probably not, but then maybe you thought it was interesting that their Emerging Devices division (cool!) is marketing several devices that could be more than useful for boomers, caregivers, and seniors.  These include a small Garmin GPS locator, and -- Blue Libris (wearable health monitor), reminding me of Halo Monitoring's MyHalo chest strap. But then AT&T's Glenn Lurie said: "The company also sees a market with senior citizens, particularly those who opt to remain in their homes instead of moving to assisted living facilities. Someone needs to keep an eye, even if only remotely, on these senior citizens and clothing is likely the easiest way for an older person to wear a physiological monitor. AT&T also plans to sell monitors that come in watch form, for example, but a senior citizen with arthritis or mobility issues may find strapping on a watch difficult." Meanwhile, back over at Verizon, they still have Family Locator (yay!) but seem to be missing the Pill Phone (still available as an app on the iPhone).

An app (and a process) for long distance holiday sharing

It’s that time creeping up. Once Halloween is over, we will be entering that long and wearing period known as ‘the Holidays’ – in which everyone who lives anywhere remembers that they don’t live somewhere where the relatives are. For some, that means crowding into cars, roadways, and airports.  It may be another one of those mind-boggling flights filled with the frail, like the 22-wheelchair Jet Blue flight I took once from – where else – Florida to Boston, frail people struggling to board early onto planes so they can join their families for the annual hoo-ha. And if they don’t or they can’t, they are sad, as much from the media hype as anything else. So their assisted living and nursing home aides hustle and bustle, or their home care worker and anyone who helps them locally tries to do something a bit festive.

Snapshot of Leading Age -- brick and mortar, limited tech

AAHSA/Leading Age -- change is incremental.  As it turns out, not a big deal, skipping a year of conferences in my quest to find innovation in the use of technology for the benefit of residents among the senior housing sector. I didn’t see too much new (exceptions below). The former American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA, now optimistically renamed Leading Age), is a 5400-member organization of senior executives from the faith-based and non-profit senior housing sector, spanning most of the nursing home/rehabilitation facilities in the US – typically campus-based CCRCs. This year is the 50th anniversary of AAHSA/Leading Age, and they celebrated by including international organizations from as far away as Australia.

Long-awaited GPS footware will enter a different world

For wanderers and caregivers – another long-awaited device. Beware of pre-announcements. So GTX has announced that the long-awaited GPS shoe (let's call that 'footware') will be available in October (that’s now!) for $299, enabling a geo-fence to be set for the wearer, alerting when the shoe travels outside of the specified area. From the NY Times article, the argument for the GPS shoe came from Andrew Carle, the coiner of ‘Nana technology’ and a professor at George Mason University. He suggested the idea to Aetrex, the shoe manufacturer, which first announced that it was going to begin product testing in 2009.   I got pretty excited by that in 2009, but after placing a call every six months to learn that it was not available, I gave up.

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Memo to vendors: Stop helping, you're making us crazy

As I nearly cut myself this morning trying to pull/persuade/yank the tab from a new carton of half-and-half, I am reminded that we have entered a new era.  Product vendors read health, environmental, safety regulations and stats – and they try to ‘help’ us with packaging that protects product quality, makes the car safer, lowers the cost of production, or…is what they think we want, maybe because it is what the innovator wants. But trying to help us is hurting, frustrating, and scaring an older population. Please save us from some of this ‘helpful’ innovation that tells us we are not up to the device, the package or the car like:

Care at home – the continuum of oversight needs a reality check

 Okay, okay, we get it – everyone wants to age at home.  How do we know?  AARP say so. Forget that AARP’s survey sample might be skewed towards the younger end of fifty- and sixty-somethings, not 80-90 year olds. Forget that life expectancy is lengthening -- the good life or the not-so-good – apparently indistinguishable among the life expectancy extender-types, aka the healthcare system.  Forget that this is a gloomy and isolating picture for those with limited transportation in their 80’s and 90’s, those living alone with mild to moderate dementia, and those for whom it is a great chore just to get up and about. 

Aging in Place Technology Watch September 2011 Newsletter

The American home ownership dream fizzles -- is that bad?  On a recent business trip in Switzerland, I was told that home ownership there isn't the be-all, end-all that it is here, that people are comfortable with renting and putting their money to other uses. It looks like a small and similar trend is happening in the US -- apparently we have begun the simultaneous housing downsizing of boomers and the creation of a rental culture. You may have noticed a new report (no, not the one that said the telehealth market would hit $6.28 billion by 2020) about housing in the US -- this Harvard report noted that home ownership dipped below 67% in 2010. In addition to excess housing inventory from foreclosures, the echo boomers (born 1986 or later) apparently are entering their peak household formation years without forming traditional ownership households. And one-third of households aged 65-74 reported moving, many to smaller households. Of course, the other two-thirds are aging in place, a euphemism these days for not being able to sell the house, the furniture, and get out to a more reasonably-sized dwelling. The report also asserts that many existing homes are being converted to rentals. Imagine if those who want to downsize either rent out a portion of their home to a student or find a compatible older adult who can defray expenses.  Imagine if those lucky enough to sell their houses pocketed the cash, enabling flexibility in finding work where the work is, instead of where the house keeps a stranglehold.  And perhaps they took the money they didn't spend on housing -- and spent it elsewhere in the economy.

Prognostications about Great Gadgets

Last Saturday, the AARP national convention featured a session called Great Gadgets.  Three speakers were on the panel representing AARP, the Consumer Electronics Association and Annenberg School at USC. Here is a summary of their prognostications and a few of my own: 1) content anywhere/everywhere; 2) few early adopters; 3) tablets are here to stay as the fourth screen; 4) the future is more tech, more places and 5) he who builds the product that needs the least support will win. Read on for the details.


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