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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

Monthly blog archive

Five technology Innovations for Older Adults – May, 2016

The more things change in the age-related markets, the more they change.  Even without an age-related event announcement, article, or article series, new startups and initiatives emerge every week that can provide benefit to older adults and those who provide care for them. Some firms want to apply tech from other market categories to the aging market segment. Others are already in the segment and announce a new offering. Categories of these five from May include health, tech support, hydration, transportation, and social connection, Information is derived from the websites of the companies:

Home is where the money goes when it comes to long-term care

Are individuals who need care where they should and can be? You may have noticed last week. There were four articles and press announcements within just a few days – sourced separately that belong together. No insurance or government program is all that transparent or straightforward, but policy and practice variations across states seem to have one victim – the person who needs care.  They ability to obtain that care at home (or in the right setting) depends on the state you live in and what the policy, practices, and costs in that state. Genworth’s newly-updated report is revealing about long-term care costs in multiple settings and categories.

The Future of Tech -- Mismatched with the Logistics of Home Care

Caregiving is hot – but practicality is not.  The letters to the editor in today’s WSJ print edition were on point following Ezekiel Emanuel’s May 3 article about the Independence at Home program. The article described care in the home provided for an 87-year-old diabetic, post-stroke, oxygen dependent woman receiving six hours of daily home care, supposedly more than she would receive in a nursing home. One doctor observed: “What happens at the seventh hour when she needs help in transferring, falls from her wheelchair or when her blood sugars go out of control?” What happens indeed? And the next letter: "The backbone of home care remains 'Low-paid, low-skill home service workers who cook, clean, bathe and help clients around their home.' And the process for overseeing this industry of workers who help the neediest elderly – actually it’s not much of a process at all. And the distinction in the media between private duty non-medical home care, home health care, geriatric care management, or hospice care in the home?  Not much. 

Technology and the Logistics of Home Care

The US faces a shortage of professional in-home care workers.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected both the growing availability of home care jobs and the shortage of people to fill them. Some states will confront daunting shortages within the next few years: Minnesota will need to fill almost 60,000 direct-care and support positions by 2020, particularly as the state shifts funding toward care in the community rather than in nursing facilities.  The problem is worse in Alaska – where many care workers are nearing retirement age themselves.  Over time, as AARP has predicted, the care gap will widen as boomer population ages – and their care needs catch up with them.  And finally, in nursing, the future has arrived. “Between 2006 and 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (2007) projected that registered nurse job growth in the home healthcare sector (39.5%) will be larger than in the hospital sector (21.6%).” 

Caregivers don't really want caregiving technology or platforms

AARP/Catalyst study from 2016 matches results from the past.  Assume you can get past the demographics of the AARP Catalyst study -- which were well-described, but vague about the characteristics of the care recipient.  "More than three-quarters say they are interested in technology that helps them check on or monitor a loved one. Available technologies are in use by only 10% of caregivers. Caregivers say these technologies, while attractive in principle, are too costly and complex, and therefore not worth the investment of time and money."  Haven't we heard this before? Remember Caregiving in the US, 2009, when interest in technology was also 'high'? In the Catalyst study, current use rates were low: 71% said they they were interested in using technology, only 7% of caregivers are already using or have used technology available in the market. Greatest interest noted? Technology for requesting and ordering a prescriptionnrefill/pickup.

Consumer tech firms avoid marketing to older adults

But how can that be, when their products are potentially so useful?  I can hear it now – but older adults love their technology (notwithstanding the 30 million aged 65+ non-owners of smartphones).  Why all these gadgets and gizmos, these tools are so wonderfully helpful! Yes they are – apparently by accident, as determined by the user. It never seems to make it past the marketing department that this utility was intentional.

AARP Health Innovation@50+ Live Pitch (April-27-2016) Finalists

It’s really too bad that AARP ended its national events. The last one was in Miami last year – it was a good one – and Atlanta must still be reminiscing about that spectacular 2013 Life@50 event – which provided a pavilion and ramp-up for its AARP TEK training program.  From 2013: “AARP TEK’s activities in Atlanta also will include youth volunteers known as “Tech Wizards” from 4-H Clubs of America and local colleges and universities, who will help boomers and seniors learn technology basics and how it can enhance their lives day-to-day."

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Smartphones and caregiving – seize the opportunity to be useful

Not trading in your phone – only your carrier knows for sure.  What if the phone doesn’t break – and you’re going to have to pay real money for a new one? Even Apple can’t crack the code on that, since three-fourths of iPhones in 2015 were bought from carriers, its most recent growth stalled, but thankfully, in the midst of that slumping iPhone sales growth, maybe India will love the smaller phone.  But does Apple they know that as of 2010 there were 524 million people aged 65+ in the world?  Of course, Apple does not market to specific age segments, regardless of how much seniors may love the iPad. So that smartphone market will remain untapped – and at this point, older seniors are not convinced about the device’s utility.  Who wants their market? Doro, GreatCall, Clarity, and now Punkt offers a simple phone that could work for seniors.

Five New Technology Offerings for Aging in Place – April, 2016

Home is where seniors are, and for the most part, will stay.  But that doesn’t mean they will be shut out from technology innovations – increasingly those innovations are designed to benefit those at home. Increasingly, those organizations that serve older adults must also stay current on new technology developments and assess their fit for the care recipients they serve.  Categories of these April offerings include transportation, medication, housing, robotics, and tracking -- information is derived from the companies.

Real seniors are rightfully skeptical about technology like smartphones

Surveys are foundational for design/marketing – but they don’t include real seniors.  You need to make the set of slides to launch the product, service, or new website. Time to pitch the investment group, the board of directors, the distribution partners, the audience. Yet for the oldest adult markets and product segments that need seniors, the real seniors, individuals (aged 75+) are rarely surveyed – at least that we can tell, because their responses are dumped, clumped and lumped into the 65+ group.

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