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Remote Care Technology and Older Adults - Filling in the basics 2020

Technology was essential for many adults stuck at home during the pandemic, providing some social connection, access to online shopping, home delivery services, and requests for transportation. But it also became apparent that some older adults were shut out from these due to limitations in vision, hearing, dexterity, and even dementia.  And for some, technologies were not affordable – median income of a household age 75+ is $34,925. Yet it is also becoming apparent that organizations that serve older adults realize that gaps exist. They are  increasingly motivated and will strive to ramp up efforts to deliver a greater degree of access than the numbers show today. What are the key dimensions that need to be addressed moving forward?

Four technology and aging blog posts from October 2020

October 2020 -- when the fall travel season never started. And the unthinkable has become normal. These days it seems like businesses only congregate in Zoom-like rooms. But despite that, product announcements and innovations appear despite the missing in-person fanfare.  The 30+ research report interviews are complete and the writing begun for "The Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults." The goal -- publish in early December in conjunction with the What's Next Longevity Innovation Summit -- normally held in Washington, this year all online. Here are four blog posts from October, including the key themes from the research report: 

Tech-enabled Home Care Redux? Do investors remember 2016?

What’s up with investing in home care and technology?  Some recent announcements offer almost the same frothy level of investment that characterized the 2016 investor spending spree, neatly noted in a 2016 Forbes article. The Forbes list included the $157 million poured into Care.com, unfortunately revealing a shocking lack of company oversight of care workers in 2019.  Home Care Assistance received $100 million in 2016. In fact, 2013-2017 saw the rise, rise, and then fall of Home Hero – which raised $18 million (closing in 2017) and Hometeam’s $40 million in 2016. 

Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults 2020 -- Themes Emerge

What is the status and future of remote care technologies? As the research interviews for the 2020 report “Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults” wind down, a few themes become apparent. This work began in the summer of 2020 as the Covid-19 lockdown was underway. The pandemic has likely transformed the senior-focused ecosystem. It triggered ingenuity of senior care organizations and vendors; and it energized innovators and prospective investors. Reimbursement of technology was a key policy change in 2020 that fueled adoption and investment in telehealth. That change super-charged growth in telehealth-related companies that had been growing incrementally. And as senior living executives agreed early, from a technology investment standpoint there’s no turning back.

Social isolation of older adults – a problem and an opportunity

Life has been worsening for older adults – in senior living and at home.  Every day there is some new article about the impact of Covid-19 on older adults -- or another study turns up that you missed. Residents in senior living communities are having a tough time, cut off from activities and visits from family.  Isolation has produced an increase in mental health issues, loneliness and depression – and that would be for those who have a good grasp of what is going on – for those in long-term care, for those with dementia, unable to be hugged by family, it is far worse. What’s been going on with older adults in the context of social isolation and loneliness?

Five Recent Voice-Enabled Innovations for Older Adults 2020

Voice-enabled innovation softly races ahead. Technology innovation announcements whiz by at what seems to be a breakneck pace. Consider Amazon’s Whisper Mode – “I think you just whispered to me – Sau ‘turn on’ Whisper Mode.” Not just for insomniacs, imagine its utility for the faint-voiced older adult wanting to ask a question.  Or consider Apple Family Setup, which enables an Apple Watch to be set up and used without an iPhone, enabling texts, calls and GPS location.  Or in-Car voice technology like Garmin Speak-Plus for directions without a screen (that’s a plus).   Here are five from recent times:

Five Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from September 2020

The boomer-and-beyond market has caught the eye of the tech industry.  As a busy September wound down, new announcements in the voice first category were of particular interest. These include GreatCall’s new Lively Flip phone with voice services and the announcement that Amazon’s Alexa has added 80,000 answers to healthcare questions through a partnership with Digital Health company Sharecare. And on 9/24 Amazon announced CareHub, a way to monitor family members from afar. As if that weren’t enough, a tech track at Argentum’s annual (now virtual) conference included a session on Voice First (with Ryan Elza and Nick Patel, sponsored by CDW Healthcare) in a long list of tech enablement session entries. Also at Argentum, existing tech players added features for Covid-19 and more.  Finally, a new report details access limitations and disparate costs for high speed Internet across the US. Here are five other posts:

Technologies from the Argentum 2020 virtual conference and suppliers

It’s been an interesting technology week. New announcements in the voice first category were of particular interest. These include GreatCall’s new Lively Flip phone with voice services and the announcement that Amazon’s Alexa has added 80,000 answers to healthcare questions through a partnership with Digital Health company Sharecare. And today (9/24) it announced CareHub, a way to monitor family members from afar. As if that weren’t enough, a tech track at Argentum’s annual (now virtual) conference included a session on Voice First (with Ryan Elza and Nick Patel, sponsored by CDW Healthcare) in a long list of tech enablement session entries. Also on the Argentum site is a product category listing. Here are five from Argentum 2020:

Aging in place – what goes around comes around -- maybe

Aging in place – the latest trend. Rant on.  People want to age in place – just ask them, as AARP did in 2018.  Of course, in the not-cited part of that survey, only 59% expected to be able to do so. Little did they know that a pandemic was coming, that visiting with aging family would become a nightmare – with people unable to see their relatives for many months.  The death rates from Covid-19 (or with Covid-19) of seniors in nursing homes and assisted living were horrific on the one hand and daunting to prospective move-ins.  So by late 2020, EVERYBODY wants to age in place – an unprecedented trend, says Rock Health – and health innovators have taken note.

Pendent medical alerts evolve – and will disappear

Surprise (maybe) – Philips puts Lifeline business up for auction.  How do I know this? Not from any news article other than PERS Insider, a newly created newsletter for those who track the medical alert industry.  Probably given the Q1 profit drop, they had to do something about the steep revenue decline of their Personal Health businesses.  You may not remember that Philips acquired the Lifeline business in 2006 for $750 million.  What did they get for that investment? The leader in the “Medical Alert/Medical Alarm/PERS space.” You pick the term -- or let the search engine do it in order to show you each paid ad after paid ad.

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