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Four Technology and Aging Blog Posts from November 2020

November revealed a growing sense of urgency about older adults. What has been the impact on them of the daily onslaught of Covid-19 statistics? What about nine months of ceaseless updates about case counts? Has this produced a permanent fear of contact with others, including families, especially on holidays? Public-private partnerships are forming to bring devices and products to older adults, now isolated for as much as 9 months. Will that help? Tech firms are trying to boost access to the internet and devices – will this become 2021 action priority for non-profits and government? And much more will be different for an older population – the real seniors, aged 75+, perhaps previously unnoticed by media. In fact, older adults have often been ignored by marketers even as boomers have all the money.  Here are four blog posts from November:

Filling in the Tech Basics. Technology was essential for many adults stuck at home during the pandemic, providing some social connection, access to online shopping, home delivery services, and requests for transportation. But it also became apparent that some older adults were shut out from these due to limitations in vision, hearing, dexterity, and even dementia. And for some, technologies were not affordable – median income of a household age 75+ is $34,925. Yet it is also becoming apparent that organizations that serve older adults realize that gaps exist. They are increasingly motivated and will strive to ramp up efforts to deliver a greater degree of access than the numbers show today. What are the key dimensions that need to be addressed moving forward? Read more.

Amazon and Older Adults. It’s already been a big year for new Amazon offerings that could benefit older people. This month’s most obvious change was the introduction of Amazon Care Hub, an Alexa app that can be used to help monitor potentially isolated older adults. But they also have done more work on Amazon Hospitality in partnership with K4Connect (which has rolled out 10,000 Alexa devices to senior living communities). One might well argue that Amazon has and will continue to have a major impact on the quality of life for older adults (assuming senior privacy concerns and technology barriers to adoption are overcome – more on that another time).  Read more.

2020 Research Reports – A Recap. It was a year that saw little travel, but it was a good time to write. Most would agree that this year was not what we expected. Instead of continuing with business and event travel into March, HIMSS was canceled at the last minute and converted to a virtual event. And so it went, for Argentum events and many other summits. And so it remains a virtual world. So 2020 was a year that produced 5 white papers and three long research reports emerge – normally not feasible with so much here-and-there travel. By comparison, in 2019 one report, the 2019 Market Overview, was published, along with 2 long and 4 short white papers, listed under Research. Here are the reports – looking forward to 2021!  Read more.

Five technologies for older adults – November 2020. It was the month for giving thanks -- remotely. It was a strange Thanksgiving for many – staying (stuck?) in place with Zoom, FaceTime -- and few place settings. Worse, for many older adults, isolation is a worsening health issue that we will hear more about as shutdowns continue and shut-in becomes the virtual norm. In November, a long report (the third of 2020) called The Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults was published, the result of 30 interviews with executives from organizations large and very small. Here are five companies drawn from the report and beyond – all material is from the company websites. Read more.

 

 

Comments

A search of your website indicates you haven’t focused on one area—what kind of content would motivate aging seniors to adopt technology in tandem with support that would facilitate their access. I realize your focus is more on the businesses in the aging tech and health space, but I imagine senior living communities, not just tech companies and investors, follow your blog, as well as people like me, who are in the aging services realm. 

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) programs (125 of them in the U,S,), are now faced with the fact that in-person classes conflict with public health precautions. Our own program, OLLI at Southern Oregon University, has been entirely digital (mostly Zoom) since last spring. There was an intense training effort to ensure that instructors were able to master the technology and that students would be able to participate effectively. Most importantly, we provided one-on-one technical support for anyone who needed additional assistance. Those skills are now helping them stay connected with friends and family,

This kind of training is an inherent part of lifelong learning and can be facilitated by the organizational capacity of OLLI programs. While our particular program is open to any age adult, the bulk of our membership and our instructors from within OLLI and the community skew older, including many in the 75+ realm and even several instructors in their 90’s. 

But now this technology support can be available to older adults wherever they live. That means that senior living communities with strict precautions in place can offer individual residents rich content and don’t have to do the training themselves. The best part, at least with our program, is that with ideas to discuss with others face-to-face, there is motivation to engage. We have built these interactions into our curriculum by the nature of the classes and by encouraging instructors to open their classes early for chats and use breakout rooms to foster conversations in smaller groups. 

OLLI at SOU offered 107 courses in the just-completed fall term and will have 75 classes for winter. See attached catalogs. With not being confined to the space of a physical classroom, some classes offer unlimited “seats." We are among the least expensive OLLI programs in the country. The annual membership fee is $125 for as many courses as a member can schedule and no per-course tuition. Finances are not a barrier to participation because we offer scholarships for those of limited means. 

I don’t know how effectively the other OLLI programs are doing with migrating their programs to digital delivery. The National Resource Center for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes could comment. What I do know is that It is not that difficult to ferry seniors into the tech world with the carrot of good content, warm human connections and support. With no tests or grades, learning is fun for both OLLI and instructors and the range of courses is suitable for those of any educational background. While we were forced by circumstance to offer online learning, even when we return to campus, there will always be a portion of our curriculum offered this way. Some good news for these fraught times, eh?

 

All the best,

Anne

 

Anne Bellegia, Volunteer

Communications and Community Outreach

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at SOU

annebellegia@mac.com

541-944-7095

Dear Anne Bellegia, 

Your quote "What I do know is that It is not that difficult to ferry seniors into the tech world with the carrot of good content, warm human connections and support", in your last paragraph above, are the most profound words in this "Age-In-Place-Tech" web blog.

If designers and engineers only understood that, aging-in-place technology could become a different world. The human-engagement, the age-friendliness of technology is most often secondary.   

Looking over the Research overviews of technology solutions to support Aging in Place, great to see references to mobility, fall prevention -

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