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Aging in Place Technology Watch September 2010 Newsletter

On the road again -- manage my expectations, please. Flying is a chore -- and like most passengers, I am amazed that airlines don't do a better job of managing our expectations, whether it is about level of service, delays, additional charges for exit row seats, or credit-card only on the plane. Of course, my expectations are less important than the fiercely competitive and simultaneously predatory airline landscape -- they can do what they like because they own the gates and schedule for many destinations. And of course, in situations where there is competition, the airlines play hopscotch, adding a new charge, waiting to see if the others add it as well -- a new surprise for the unsuspecting consumer.

Manage our expectations about aging in our homes.  After reading through the MetLife Aging in Place 2.0 report, I wondered about how our expectations about aging can be better managed much earlier. How much discussion is there on the independent living move-in-date about services or technology for a parent or spouse should they become less mobile, begin to wander, or require in-home care? Who would have thought that the only solution offered for wandering (as happened in my own family) would be 24x7 companion care? Or when energetic boomers move into a 55-plus active adult community -- is there any discussion about home care or monitoring services that could be useful after an unexpected illness? After a loss of mobility that makes our not-so-universally designed homes and clubhouses nearly inaccessible?  After one or the other becomes a caregiver or care recipient desperately in need of services?

The village concept -- is that a neighborhood care hub? The MetLife report described a vision of neighborhood care hubs -- as local as the local aging services organizations, geriatric care managers, and senior centers "in which passive and active devices connect homes to family, friends, and care managers who staff them." Perhaps call centers could provide the technology underpinnings for such a hub. And perhaps the actual care coordination would be in an 'intentional community' -- aka a village, a la Beacon Hill. During the Mass Technology Leadership event I spoke at in Boston last week, I was fortunate to hear perspectives Judy Willett, CEO of Beacon Hill Village in Boston. According to her, the village approach is apparently underway in 50 locations and beginning development in another 120 different cities and communities around the US. Beacon Hill Village endorses and coordinate access to and support of various technologies that support residents (age 50-101). I would like to think that the roadmap for villages and founders usually considers how to make sure members are aware of what technologies or services as members join and age, even extending into a realized vision of care coordination 'neighborhood care hub.'

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I absolutely believe in the village model for aging neighborhoods. We need to expand our vision from simply aging in place to aging in community.

As villages struggle with better managing age-related chronic illnesses particularly dementia within their communities, couldn't adult day care, as a community based facility with professional nursing staff, be an integral part of that hub?

The adult day center can easily be integrated with a wellness center aimed at caregivers and a child day care center to make a truly multi-generational place.

It just seems this the case of the purloined letter. The answer is to be found in an obvious place.

Adam Griff


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