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June 2019

The Venn Diagram of Health, Aging, and Caregiving

You see it in the media and hear about it with investors.  Digital Health is in its bubble of $8.1 billion in 2018,  which amounted to 8.6 % of VC investments, despite limited exit strategies – but investors love it.    Startups focused on the aging/technology space, however, receive only 0.7% of venture capital investment, including the big money ($115 million to date) that has gone to just one company.  (And that company is quietly pivoting to become a home care consolidator/platform company).  Meanwhile, over at the $30 billion (2018) home care market, a worsening shortage of workers in the midst of demand growth, is creating a recruiting near-panic among agencies, senior living firms and families, and produced.

Tech adoption grows for older adults -- why?

In 2019, Tech adoption changes -- some.  It’s known as the Amazon effect. As brick-and-mortar based businesses dwindle in favor of online, access to smartphone and broadband are becoming the enablers of information flow to older adults.  Pew Research helps us understand who, what, and possibly why people buy and own technology. Non-users, particularly broadband, are thus on one side of the so-called digital divide.  The latest Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019 report reveals a change in the role of smartphones, particularly as a sole device for connecting to the Internet – 37% of responders to this year’s survey go online primarily using a smartphone, with 58% of 18-29-year-olds saying they mostly go online that way, though that number dropped to 15% for the 65+.   

Ten Years – Technology for Older Adults – 2009-2019

Look back to remind us where we are.  Ten years ago, the tech product choices designed for older adults were few and rudimentary. The intent was simplification of the basics for the tech-reluctant – sending email, looking at information online.  As an analyst migrating from the IT industry, it was startling to see the limited capabilities of the offerings like Presto the Printing Mailbox (used, eBay), Celery (printing mailbox – gone), Mailbug (device to send-receive email – still on Amazon), and Big Screen Live (browser for seniors - gone).  According to an AARP Healthy@Home report from 2008, the only home tech device that had any level of awareness (91% of responders) was Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS).

Five Health and Aging Tech Posts from May 2019

What does it mean when offerings and consumers aren’t aligned?  For older consumers and their families, the technology market and senior housing industry are two cases in point.  Consider the slower-growing 8(8% occupied) senior housing industry – where in ten years, 81% of couples will not be able to afford the $60,000 average cost of assisted living (a number that does not reflect higher cost memory care). Or mull over the technology industry, which is releasing new versions of every category faster than you can Google them, filling voids like adding mouse for the iPad.  Why did it not have a mouse in the first place?  Oh, yes, and it is an accessibility feature.  Still no headphone jack on the phone.  Or creating a folding phone (without much testing) with a screen that breaks within days of announcement. Did anyone ask for a phone that folds?  So in that vein, here are five blog posts, mostly rants, from May, 2019: