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Washington DC Feb 15-19.

Related News Articles


GrandPad announces Grandie, an AI-powered virtual companion.


The rise of passive, non-intrusive PERS devices at CES.


The tech market for seniors boasts many tools, but not all of them are user friendly. 


Says a report from the Senate Aging Committee.


From 101,000 to 422,000 -- mostly women.

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Aging in America – Caring Professionals, Hopeful Vendors, Too Little Adoption

If it’s a Thursday, April 28, I must be -- Aging in AmericaWhere are the restrooms? With so much travel these days, it’s easy to get disoriented – have I seen this exhibit floor before and which one of my seven PowerPoint slide decks is labeled Thursday at 2:30 pm? From talking to attendees and later reading AARP and Linda Barrett’s comprehensive and updated Healthy @ Home 2.0 -- it looks like as we are becoming older, we are more tech-aware (and apparently saturated with PCs), but still not galvanized into caregiver tech adoption urgency. It also seems to me that industry professionals hear about technology products and see more potential for introduction to their parents than for their elderly constituents.  Oh, and by the way, they are waiting for integrators to bundle them into well-tested packages, short lists and solutions for family and professional caregivers.

So many sessions, so many smart phones and iPads. The 2011 program book was enormous, with so many similar and carefully prepared sessions in tiny rooms, dispersing the 3500+ attendees into slivered cross-sections of the aging services professional world that appears dominated by women – think agencies that serve seniors, non-profits, product vendors and hopefuls, and senior housing administrators.  At the adjacent What’s Next Boomer Business Summit, ironically, there were more men -- tech talkers, investors, incubators and would-be entrepreneurs. Taking notes on their iPads, intently eyeing their smart phones between bursts of networking intensity.

Lit by stories that inspire and surprise.  I was lucky enough one night to take a SilverRide with a charming driver who talked about a 97-year-old client no longer driving, anticipating a morning SilverRide excursion with such excitement that she arose and began getting ready at 2 am.  And another: a fireman stood up at a session to describe a home-bound disabled person stuck on his couch as his home caught on fire – tapping his desperation and location into a Facebook page – instantly responded to from all over the country with calls to his local 911 operator providing his location, saving his life.  An another the 84-year-old Westchester board president of an 'aging in place' organization -- telling attendees how the multi-player World of Warcraft game is used to foster team spirit among a group of volunteers.

Trends both confirmed and predicted – home health.  Healthy@Home 2.0 is AARP's long-awaited updated survey about the interest, awareness, actual usage, and market potential of technologies to help the 65+ population age in place. The earlier report (surveyed in 2007) asked seniors and caregivers about technologies that could barely be imagined in this video -- but today the technologies are not imaginary. They are all in the market and the survey reports that people are more willing to use them than they were, but their awareness level has barely budged even as usefulness of electronic pillboxes, for example, is perceived to be high. Small and useful tech may matter most among today’s personal health technologies – perhaps a blood pressure cuff here or a door sensor there, or a CookStop automated stove shut-off device in the kitchen.

Technology designed for all transcends universal design physical space.  We have become somewhat mumble-mouthed in recent years about universal design, mainly using the term to describe physical environments -- doorways and thresholds, counter heights, bathroom safety, and not consumer technology. But designing technology for all as described in the AARP Connected Living and Social Aging: Designing Technology for All report suggests a different trend.  Technology products – computers, software, tablets, phones, websites, etc. – can provide “user experiences that appeal to all age groups” and for any user can be customized to persist across devices and version upgrades. Is that possible? If so, say goodbye to the current PERS pendant industry within the next 5 years as smart phone adoption accelerates among seniors. One example: here is a smart phone PERS app that links users who may need help with professional call centers trained to respond. From their press release: “Through its partnership with GEOS Alliance, Nuvel’s feature-rich application provides emergency response services in North America, South America, and Europe. The vSOS subscription fee of $9.97 per month includes both the application and the personal emergency response services.”

Now -- your experiences at Aging in America and What’s Next are most welcome.

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