Some older adults are living in neighborhoods that may be making them sick.
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Time to ask what technology should be in the home of older adults?
Tech-enabling home care is one lens on future of care. Venture capitalists listen carefully for trends fueled by talk in the media. During the past several years, they heard plenty -- about the longevity economy and an investment-related network, digital health watchers like Rock Health and Startup Health 'moonshots', and all things boomer and their tech interest about the future. So they saw home care as a growth opportunity. Buried in and mostly around the wave of investment and media interest in boomers (oldest age in 2017 is 71), the tech industry also noodled a bit more about the over-hyped Internet of Things, emerging voice recognition technologies, and technology adoption trends (everybody except for those aged 75+).
Are care recipients tech-enabled enough to participate in their care? Despite the tech fluff cycle, some people, particularly older adults, may just not be buying the fact that the future is on their phone. Discounting smartphone carrier plans and the useful irritant/irritating utility of the phones themselves still doesn’t penetrate the oldest age segments. That may be what fueled flip-phone sales in 2015 and what keeps that device segment buzzing along. What other technology for an older population may have had a better chance of success if inventors and innovators had looked more broadly at the target market?
Ecosystems matter – note those for the older adult segments. Considering price and simplicity, it is striking that so many consumer offerings enter the marketplace neither simple nor properly priced – meanwhile the consumer tech industry growth is slowing – not just in smartphones and tablets, but all tech -- software and hardware. Per that Accenture survey, no surprise, price points, security breaches, and ease of use (or lack thereof) matter to consumers. As is often the case with market research, the report does not break down age categories about this stalling growth, but in the advice section, it notes the importance of ecosystems. That means partnerships among the user constituents, between senior housing companies and home care, between health care providers and home care, between home service companies and online marketplaces -- and related service offerings.
A year later – time for revision to the Market Overview of Technology for Aging in Place. This annually-updated report will be reviewed during February for what has changed; what no longer matters; and what firms, including startups, may matter over the next year to the older adult market segments. If you have thoughts – please bring them forward about any new offerings in the categories of communication and engagement, home safety and security, health and wellness, learning and contribution, dementia care, home care, and caregiving apps. And if you think categories are missing or no longer matter, please speak up!