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July 2020

To connect older adults, when will a trend convert to a mandate?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, tech nice-to-haves have become critical.  Between boosting the deployment of telehealth technologies, once-delayed initiatives became instantly late. Consumers are on board with telehealth, and engagement technologies like smartphones and tablets are offered through Medicare Advantage, plus a wave of other pandemic-related tactics and free offerings appeared.  Thousands of smart speaker devices have been delivered to senior living communities.  Note that PACE programs for frail and low-income elderly are now directed by CMS to use remote technology for "activities that would normally occur on an in-person basis," such as scheduled and unscheduled participant assessments, care planning, monitoring, communication, and other activities.”

Covid-19 and Mid-Year Look at 2020 Tech Trends for Older Adults

That was then… In early 2020, focus sharpened on market categories of aging and caregiving. AARP published a new report that showed growing interest in technology among those aged 70+. The 127,000 CES 2020 attendees in January saw exhibit areas and innovations focused on older adults and what they need. Cambia Health released a survey of caregivers, 64% of surveyed caregivers use at least one digital tool to help them with caregiving. The National Alliance for Caregiving surveyed caregivers including their use of technology (surprisingly low), and Samsung, Best Buy and Amazon now group offerings that could be helpful for older adults and those who care for them.

Considering medication packaging and dispensing during Covid-19

During Covid-19, do older adults take their prescribed meds?  Not necessarily. Medication non-adherence has long been a topic of concern, with the cost of poor adherence amounting to $177 billion each year, 50% of treatment failures, and as many as 25,000 deaths. And according to the Pharmacy Times, Covid-19 has made a problematic situation much worse.  Some pharmacy experts express concern about the pandemic’s side effects of isolation, job loss/loss income, medication costs, missed or unavailable doctor’s appointments, or issues with package delivery.  And the CDC has expressed concern about risks and modified procedures for older adults and pick-up of prescriptions in pharmacies.

Hearing loss: Five teleaudiology offerings in the time of COVID-19

Covid-19 sharpens the benefits of teleaudiology. Half of those aged 75+ and one-third of the 65+ have hearing loss. During the pandemic, telehealth use grew sharply in the care of older adults, enabled by CMS reimbursement changes that likely will be permanent.  It’s also likely that teleaudiology (the utilization of telehealth to provide audiological services) will gain additional importance when face-to-face visits are worrisome, even impossible in some locations. As with other market segments, the hearing health market saw the opportunity to promote their teleaudiology (or tele-audiology) services for those who already own telehealth-capable hearing aids that may need adjustment. Some may require a smartphone app and in-office guidance from the audiologist to get started with it, or at the least, read an explainer about "merging face time with FaceTime." Here are five examples – content is from the vendors:

Five Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from June 2020

June -- it was the worst of times.  Who can comprehend that 43% of Covid-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes? Who could have imagined the economic impact of job loss and (almost all) business shutdown?  Who could have speculated that senior living organizations would have occupancy levels nationwide below 88%? Who would have thought that telehealth definitions would include phone calls and Facetime?  Most importantly, as so many families were reminded, their aging relatives had not adopted any of the devices and software that would enable face-to-face communication. Or that high speed internet would not be available in nursing homes or the dementia care units in assisted living where their relatives now lived. Let’s hope July is better! Here are the five blog posts from June 2020:

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