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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Six Tech and Aging Blog Posts -- September, 2017

It was the autumn of disaster.  As summer waned, a series of storms (and oddly-off forecasts about path) wreaked havoc across a vast area, with terrorized older adults left sitting in water or trapped on highways --stuck in interminable traffic, sweltering heat or homes crushed and no place to go. Hurricane Harvey assaulted Houston, then Hurricane Irma pummeled multiple areas of Florida and Caribbean islands, there were earthquakes and aftershocks in Mexico, followed by a mind-boggling crisis from Maria in Puerto Rico. Throughout all of these, people were heroic. But technology failed or disappointed in almost every way -- from cell phone batteries to power companies, from internet availability to forecasting of storm paths. If one were to look back a year later, it will almost be too much to be believed. Here are six blog posts from the month of September, most prior to Hurricane Irma:

Irma: hurricanes, tech and older adults – what can be learned? First there was too much information.  At the forecasters became more insistent that Irma would hit Florida – the state with the highest percentage of older adults -- as a Category 5 hurricane, many of the possibly 4 million older adult residents appeared to leave first – when the highways were still passable. Then more tried to leave and were stuck in monumental traffic jams.  Finally, there were the stalwarts determined to stay, in the Keys, in Miami, in Bonita Springs, in Jacksonville. And for senior living communities, evacuation seemed near-impossible. Ultimately for some with no place to go – and no help – they died due to neglect and lack of followup by a state agency.

Wearable tech for older adults -- but what's after Medical Alarms?  Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS or Medical Alarms) -- a long-standing $3+ billion market (30+ years!) that has evolved only slightly from its fear-inspiring origins. The 'I’ve Fallen' message is still 'inspiring' families and seniors to acquire one.  But 30% of the market’s sales are for mobile devices. This makes sense in this time of substantial life expectancy at age 65, that 46% of women aged 75+ live alone; and now we can add older adults’ newly-discovered extended middle age.  Mobility demands mobile devices which in turn boost confidence to be out-and-about. Consider walking the dog -- since one third of the 65+ population has one. 

Working Past 70 -- What are the Reasons and Tech Implications? Trends come and trends go – but some trends generate their own trends.  No doubt you saw the news that one-fifth of individuals aged 65+ (as officially counted by someone) are still working at least part time -- some past the age of 70.  In fact, this is the highest rate of employment level of older adults in 55 years.  Perhaps this trend is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Apparently 79% of US workers expect to supplement retirement income by working for pay.  Maybe they read about the recent assertion that the definitional age of 'old' is moving up to 73 for women and 70 for men. Are older workers concerned about life expectancy? Do they know that if they live to age 65, life expectancy is anticipated to be 88.8 for women and 86.6 for men? Are they worried about outliving their money (aka plummeting retirement income)? It used to be that older adults feared nursing homes worse than death. That was in 2007.  Now the worry is outliving their money.

Five Technology Innovations to Help Older Adults. As August winds down, startups wind up. For some, maybe they still think that summer is winding down and all is quiet in business and beyond. But no -- back to school, back to work, and back to starting companies.  Aging 2.0 finalists have been announced, conference media organizations are ramping up, and a few leaves begin to turn – fall is in clearly the air and around the corner.  Before August disappears altogether and the media engines shift into gear, here are five announcements of new technologies designed to help older adults and/or their caregivers.  All material is derived from the websites of the firms.

What’s new in technology for individuals with impaired vision? Lots of talk about technology talking to us.  We are in a 'voice-first-this' and 'voice-first-that' that moment in technology history.  So much buzz, that even Apple thinks Siri may need to wise up and consider the competition – which is speaking to us from everywhere, and has even (in research) reduced the error rate down to 5.1%.   Of course, when you imagine that voice tech is used for in-car navigation systems (Drive to Western Avenue – no not cistern, I said Western!) and may be driving home automation systems, alerting to falls, and assisting home health aides, it’s important to have very high expectations for very low error rates.

What is virtual reality and why should seniors care? Emerging from the gaming world, virtual reality technology and content is beginning to deliver in healthcare and senior settings. The strict definition, "computer technology that delivers an experience through headsets” is terse. But for multiple firms, from CDW Healthcare and Morning Pointe Memory Care to Cedars Sinai Hospital -- these organizations see an opportunity to use the technology in interesting and beneficial ways.

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Comments

The people of Silicon Valley (aka Palo Alto and surrounding communities) are taking care of the internet related issues.  We will soon have the waterproof Apple Watch 3, with 40,000,000 songs,cell phone,and 18 hours of battery life.  Sergey Brin is building a better blimp over at the Google airport(Moffett Field), a constellation of which should be able to provide a temporary 5G network in a pinch - when winds settle, and Facebook messenger can used to help family members coordinate things and share disaster photos.

Hope you all have a good time at PERS summit. Everyone there is invited to the first annual Silicon Valley PERS Farewell Party being planned for November 14th.  if somone can supply us one,we will barbecue a cash cow.

 

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