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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

Monthly blog archive

Consider technologies designed for all, including older adults

Summarizing the Pew Research reports to expose boomer/senior tech adoption trends was quite an eye opener, shining a light on the wide gap between enthusiasm and hype versus the reality of actual boomer/senior buyers and users. For example, in case you were wondering: the tablet, E-reader and smart phone have not taken the 65+ population by storm. But 24% of boomers and 11% of seniors have smart phones today – and I believe that number will double at the next survey. Not exactly a groundswell, nevertheless a clear recognition of benefit.

Is a disaster required to improve focus on older adults?

Will it take a tsunami to create a coherent vision of more successful aging?  It was a disaster. On March 11 of this year, one-third of the 16,000  Japanese tsunami deaths were among the 65+, no doubt embarrassing the citizens and government, who most likely believed they had done a good job of providing for an aging population. An article in The Gerontologist spells out why:  In 1989 the Japanese government developed a vision for long-term care, refined in 2000 with its own slogan "from care by family to care by society” complete with "policy to make home, community-based and institutional services a universal entitlement" based on physical and mental status regardless of family availability and economic status.

Whither the Senior PC?

Were senior PCs reviewed in a column of the Wall Street Journal?  Sort of. Last week, Walt Mossberg wrote about the Telikin PC for Seniors, which was unusual. The tech columnist-turned-Apple enthusiast for the Wall Street Journal periodically writes about other new tech (between Apple product announcements). The Telikin, first launched at the October 2010 AARP Convention, is not exactly new. Bet from reading the Journal, you didn’t know that the average aged WSJ newspaper print subscriber is a 57-year-old baby boomer with an average income of $191K. Also note that half of all baby boomers have one living parent. So tech for seniors should be of interest to baby boomer Journal readers, as well as the affluent NY Times readers, who spend more than $800/year just to read the newspaper in print. Both groups still have parents, both groups can afford to buy them a device currently on the market if they’re willing. But since only 42% of the 65+ population are online, that still leaves a mere 14.8 million people 65+ with online access to nothing.

Are older adults disconnected from technology or marketers?

What are the basic facts about boomer-senior connectivity?  Pew Research and others have been releasing report after report about technology use, but without a summary sheet, marketers might not be able to see the forest for the trees. So here are the basics from the past year of Pew-published surveys – to my knowledge, the only source for this number of categories that include 50+ age cohorts:

Robots for caregiving -- pick up the pace or give it up

Patience, patience, when it comes to robots and elder care.  When it comes to robots to assist with caregiving and the elderly, we want to believe. It was just 2 years ago that Gecko Systems issued a press release saying that they expected "Medicare/Medicaid Payments to Increase Personal Robot Demand." Makers of the CareBot, the company announced its dealer program in June 2010 -- but it is unclear whether the company has moved into commercial release. It was just 3 years ago that the uBOT-5 (UMass Amherst) was offered up as having the potential to provide elder care for aging baby boomers.

Linkage Links People and Products

400,000 consumers are ready for AIP Tech. Linkage ( is an organization based in Mason, Ohio that collaborates with more than 600 senior living communities – reaching 400,000 residents.  Linkage aims to connect and extend its members, vendor partners and corporate sponsors to older adults who choose to stay in their own homes. Scott Collins, Linkage President/CEO, says, "Reaching the 'aging in place' population is one of the many initiatives Linkage has identified for its members as a way to ensure sustainability and create additional revenue streams amidst a turbulent economy and shifting demographic patterns."

Changes in longevity, health, housing must drive bundling of tech solutions

Elder care, housing and aging – the present is not like the past. We are entering the patchwork quilt era of senior housing that reflects lengthening life expectancy and a stretched economy: steady-state occupancy in assisted living at around 2.1 million for- and non-profit, a lot (1000) fewer nursing homes in the last decade. So what else is out there besides caring for an aging parent in your guest room? Quite a bit, actually. There are national networks and websites today that describe NORCs (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities); there are Virtual Villages, there is the Maine Approach (building a grass-roots volunteer network shored up with video monitoring), and now there is a national Co-housing Network. Meanwhile, over in China, the land of supposed taking care of aging parents in the home, check out all the senior group homes forming.

The market is ready, but are the vendors?

Why is it so difficult to get AIP technology in the door? Senior living providers and senior home care agencies want to adopt eldercare technology into their daily activities. AgeTech California is a joint effort is to assist providers in implementing proven, cost-effective technologies that will increase the efficiency of care and the quality of life for clients receiving care.  At Mary Furlong’s recent Boomer Venture Summit, Joanne Handy from Aging Services of California, one of the AgeTechCA partners, presented a slide that every AIP tech vendor should heed.

Aging in Place Technology Watch July 2011 Newsletter

Radio days -- do big companies care about seniors? I’ve been doing some radio interviews lately and the same question is always asked – originating from skepticism or disbelief, I’m not sure: “Are large companies really interested in technology for older adults?” That is another way of asking, of course, do large tech companies see the senior market as relevant? I always reply by naming Microsoft, Intel, GE, Qualcomm, Verizon and Philips – of course they are interested and willing to say so publicly, even when their initiatives are relatively small departments or investments by very large companies. But with baby boomers turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next 20 years, could the silent giants of the tech sector to acknowledge and segment a bit of the website? Search the sites of HP, Google, Apple, Motorola, Dell, IBM, and Nintendo. (And yes, I know about ‘’, a project done by a few Google employees in their company-provided spare time.)

Are the Mi-Look phone's functions for our future -- or now?

The Japanese offer us a device-eye lens into US in 2030... or maybe today.  Heads up. See what $255 buys today in Japan for monitoring and communicating with an aging parent. The Mi-Look phone, recently announced by Kyocera, helps us look into our tech future, circa 2030, when a relatively niche US market will have grown to become a mainstream expectation. By that date, the age 65+ population will have reached the current Japanese percentage of approximately 22 percent. There will be nearly 52 million people 70 and older in the US, well over the current target population for the Mi-Look phone, which represents a 12 million current senior market size in Japan. So at that point, there should be quite a bit of demand for cleverness. Mainstream vendors will trip over themselves to offer high function/low price tech anyone could use without training and away from the home. But hey, what do you know, given the prospective market size of 12 million aged 70+ that Kyocera has identified in Japan -- wouldn't you know that there are already 27 million in the US today who are age 70+.

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