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Five pivotal posts from Aging and Health Technology Watch March 2022

Isn’t March a l-o-n-g month? So many weeks, so many blog posts to, uh, post. Note the top trends that matter this year. Many changes underway in the enabling tech categories for older adults – including the importance of tech for home care agencies – not just the apps for the workers, but for care recipients, such as remote monitoring. And for hearing aid wearers, the smartphone can carry multiple apps that improve their quality of life. Finally, the smartwatch, aka personal emergency response device, gets another entrant – and the very first mobile PERS ('medical alert') company, Mobile Help, is acquired. Summing up the month:

What trends matter this year and beyond? In 2022, the oldest baby boomer turns 76, while the population aged 65+ will exceed 54 million. Trends accelerated by the pandemic continue to emerge, and the population aged 50+ will continue to purchase and use technology, accounting for an estimated 51% of technology spending by 2030. In an interview with Best Buy Health for their 800,000 recipient newsletter, these were the 7 trends we identified that will persist throughout the year -- and beyond. These should be of particular note to startups and tech companies that want to reach the older adult market. Read more.

Why should home care agencies boost awareness of remote monitoring? Both types of monitoring are increasingly likely to be found by home care professionals entering a new care recipient’s home. The objective of these remote monitoring technologies is to help healthcare teams, care workers and/or families understand if any issues are occurring inside the home when they cannot be there in person. Patients with chronic diseases or those who are discharged from hospitals may benefit from the use of RPM technology to monitor significant chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension or congestive heart failure, and especially to avoid a recurrence of an issue that would require readmission. Read more.

The perfect storm has arrived to drive tech adoption in the home and care services. So many factors converge now that were highlighted during the pandemic – consider the need for telehealth services as an alternative to in-person visits. The lack of broadband access for older adults limited vaccine sign-up or even communication with families or friends. The slow rollout of Wi-Fi in senior living was, to say the least, a miscalculation about the future. And last, but not least, the worsening staffing shortage, noted for years throughout the older adult service industry, is now a full-blown crisis. And the shortages in home care, home healthcare, skilled nursing facilities and senior living are juxtaposed with an overall labor shortage, just as the oldest baby boomer has turned 76 and has significant remaining life expectancy. Consider that older adults remain in hospitals and rehab facilities because there are no workers to help them with care at home. Read more.

Hearing aid users need smartphones and apps. The hearing aid industry has been undergoing disruption in recent years, most notably from the Over The Counter initiative and the growth of hearables, which have legitimized the use of devices hanging from, versus hidden inside the ear. There are some apps that can enhance the quality of life of individuals with moderate or severe hearing loss. A number of these have been discussed by audiologists in the Tru website. Audiologists support the use of multiple types of apps for those with hearing loss, particularly those apps that come from the hearing aid manufacturers themselves. Experts note that these apps enable the user to tailor their experience to their own needs. Beyond the manufacturer offerings, there are a number of apps that can help people with a broad range of hearing loss. Read more.

Another long-time PERS player sees a watch, makes a watch. Rant on. Last January 2021, WaterStreet, a healthcare investment company, coughed up a mind-bending $100 million to Medical Guardian, a long time (2006) privately-held PERS provider, to ‘fund expansion.’ Medical Guardian already had a PERS watch (from Omate) – which Amazon reviewers did not love; other than HELP and telling the time, there wasn’t much to it anyway. By June 2021, they partnered with Black&Decker to offer more PERS capabilities – a wearable with fall detection, but maybe that lacked a wow factor. So the newly developed one has more features – including step-counting, a voice-assist charge warning, and communication (from the watch) with a care circle. With deep pockets, Medical Guardian can afford to develop its own device – and maybe this one's the charm for current customers, though it lacks fall detection, odd, given the risk of falls for older adults. Otherwise the market has moved on – to remote monitoring. Read more.

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