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August 2022

New technologies may mitigate fall risk – and just in time

The stats on death from falls are startling – especially for the 65+.  Death rates are rising, projected to be 7 up to deaths per hour for the 65+ by 2030.  And that falls are the leading cause of injury death among the 65+.  Did you know that the majority of hip fractures are from falling, usually sideways?  Did you know that medical costs from falls was $50 billion in were projected to be $52 billion in 2020? And that the costs (estimated at $754 million in 2015) were mostly paid by Medicare and Medicaid (the latter likely in nursing homes.)  So many factors contribute to the risk of falling, including lower body weakness, balance issues, medications, and home hazards.

Interface designers opt for cool over useful

In recent years, TV Remote control devices became more usable – except for Apple’s.  Rant on. Starting with the older one (“Ridiculously symmetrical and highly unusable”) to the most recent Siri remote – where they give up on usable buttons and enable changing the channel by voice. You gotta love a company with a device so devoid of buttons – and so easily off the rails with an accidental touch.  No wonder it makes more sense to talk to it. Meanwhile, many usable TV remote control devices are in the market, including an Apple TV button remote from Function101 and you can also get a button universal remote control – and even one that is back-lit – so you can see the buttons – crazy!  Why are these devices called senior remotes?  Duh, because they have buttons, which seniors, maybe tired of all the accidentally swiping and zooming they do with their smartphones, just seem comforting and accessible.

Over the counter hearing aids – an absurdly long time in coming

Yesterday was a big day that should have happened several years ago. Finally. The US Food and Drug Administration approved the over-the-counter sale of hearing aids for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Consider that this was first proposed in 2017! Consider the hearing aid ecosystem that has grown over many years to involve audiologists, a shrinking number of hearing aid makers – only five control 90% of the market! Consider the high price (upwards of $6000 per pair), limited insurance company assistance, and much individual isolation, misery, and family frustration. Consider the now-known and studied connection between untreated hearing loss and dementia.  Consider the multi-year delay between the onset of hearing loss for individuals, especially men, and actually doing anything about it. Consider the social isolation experienced by those with hearing loss.

CENSUS: Senior care growth means tech change will be mandatory

The Census knows the growth and potential explosion of care needs and older adults. Consider their newly published document explaining the industries to those who may still not see what’s happening. "Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly saw a 34.4% increase in revenue from 2013 to 2020.  Home Health Care Services experienced an even larger increase – 50.5% -- during the same period." These assertions are built on the Service Annual Survey (2021).   The U.S. Census Bureau projects that in 2050, the U.S. population ages 65 and over will be 83.9 million, nearly double what it was (43.1 million) in 2012.

Five Sensor Technology Offerings to Benefit Older Adults 2022

Some might say that sensor technology for older adults is nothing new.   What’s the big deal? Remote monitoring products and services built with sensors have been around for decades. Grandcare Systems was founded in 2004 followed by a sensor-based remote monitoring startup and consolidation wave in 2009-2010. This type of tech had obvious benefits, even then, but today, what was obvious then has become a crisis of care today. There are simply not enough workers to care for the aging boomers and beyond. That spells opportunity for motion and camera-based sensors that are being deployed for care of older adults. This will be discussed further in a report later this year, The Future of Sensors and Older Adults 2022. Among the many types and features of sensors, here are five offerings, all info from the companies:

Did you miss anything? Four Aging and Tech Posts from July 2022

July offered time to think about gaps and staff shortages. For example, we expect tech products to be more intuitive and usable than they are. So often we become mired in a swamp of settings, especially when upgrading to a new device or software version. Everyone seems to know someone who has waved a hand and dismissed even being trained on new offerings. At the same time, many are eager to learn and wish they knew how to know what they needed to know. Meanwhile, the labor shortage has impacted every aspect of senior care, requiring a rethink of financial health of the businesses and the role of technology. Occupancy in senior living dipped below 80% in 2021, though said now to be in a period of recovery --even as costs to operate and resident prices rise. Here are the four blog posts from July 2022.

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