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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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February 2015

For seniors stranded by geography, improve service and technology

The census highlights difficulty for family caregivers and the 80+.  Last week we posted an analysis of US Census data revealing those locations in the US with low Caregiver Support Ratios (CSR) – in other words, seniors aged 80+ stranded with limited care availability. CSR (discussed in this landmark AARP report) represents the population aged 45-64 who could (though they may not be) able to help seniors aged 80+ and includes both family and professional caregivers.  The AARP report indicated a current nationwide average of 7 people available to help care for 1 person aged 80+.  The report warned about those future years when baby boomers turn 80 and the ratio drops to 4:1 and lower. However, further analysis reveals a current potential problem in locations such as:

Stranded by geography: today’s caregiver support ratios and the 80+ population

Now is the winter of discontent. Neighborhoods disappear under the weight of snow piling up and billions of dollars are adding up in lost business (think car dealers and restaurants). But what of mitigating the isolation and providing care for the elderly, especially for those seniors aged 80+, living in communities overwhelmed by bad weather? Is the likelihood of having family to help related to geography? That topic was addressed by state in the August, 2013, AARP INSIGHT report, The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap, introducing the term and an infographic for the caregiver support ratio (CSR) – "the number of potential family caregivers aged 45-64 for each person aged 80+." The report prediction: given future population changes, CSR would decline from its 2010 level of 7 potential caregivers for each person aged 80+ (7:1) down to a ratio of 4:1 in 2030 and 3:1 in 2050. Today, those low ratios have been reached around the US – in both locations that are warm…and snow-covered.

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Caregiving technology needs a version 2.0 upgrade

The dilemma of distance -- boomers have parents who live in, for example, Florida. The oldest boomer is 69. They’re not all that healthy. The still-living parent(s) may be even less healthy. In this age of medical specialization and long distance families, many aging women living alone: they need to see doctors, perhaps multiple doctors. Even if the children of aging parents live nearby, experiencing enhanced intergenerational proximity (!), the aging parent may ultimately live alone. With life expectancy for woman now averaging 88+, it is safe to say that older boomers are still involved in coordinating the care of their aging parent/mother. And they’re doing it from a distance – since the boomer woman with a career may not reside in Florida. Consider that Florida is now on track to become the 3rd largest state – with population growth primarily from migration. The state now has a median age of 74 for its 65+ population, one-quarter of that population widowed. But the dilemma of distance criss-crosses the country from California to Maine, from upstate New York to New Mexico.

The CCRC concept is an ageist nightmare -- and it’s not just the name

Maybe you have Ann Clinton stuck in your mind too.  This woman and her husband spent $351,424 plus $4600 per month for the 'security' of having access to the continuing care of a CCRC. The 'continuing' of the CCRC was in one direction – she discovered that returning in a motorized wheelchair from the nursing home section to the independent living bingo game engendered big protest – from the other residents as well as management. You may have seen this yourself – people putting wheelchairs and walkers at a dining room door and limping in so that they could eat with friends in the 'independent living' dining room. These are well-documented -- if not well-understood -- policies. The message, perhaps constructed by CCRC marketing?  Independent living residents don’t wish to see people who are not as 'independent' -- or at least who don’t appear as independent as themselves.

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