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Did you miss one of four November blogs? Smart clothing, dumb homes

November was an interesting month in the technology industry. Big tech companies seem to be suffering from the lemming effect – if one conducts a wave of layoffs, the pressure is intense to shrink the corporate staffs, address poor performance (of staff? Of management?), drop certain development efforts, or perhaps they just feel compelled to keep up with everyone else who is downsizing and don’t want to be left out. Maybe this is a good long-term sign that there will be more tech minds outside these big firms to allocate to innovation for, call me crazy, an aging population that needs new ideas from best and the brightest. The four posts for November 2022:

Who is offering AI in Technology for Older Adults?

AI matters for older adults. Over the last few years, a growing number of applications of AI and machine learning have entered the market of caregiving technology for older adults. Stanford Medicine offers a Partnership in AI-Assisted Care. Projects are underway at the University of Illinois, MIT AgeLab, Georgia Tech, Penn, and no doubt other university programs around the US. AI is a fundamental machine-learning element in voice technology, which is here to stay, despite the noisy racket about Amazon.  The AI role in deriving predictive analytics from accumulated data is just beginning to reveal its utility. 

Smart home devices are dumb about tech support

Smart home devices are not smart about tech support. The future of the smart home and older adult users has not quite arrived. It is just as well – younger device owners are struggling. According to Parks Associates,Households with heads of household ages 35-44 are the most likely to experience technical issues with their devices.” Not surprising, since that group owns the most devices These tech-proficient users try to troubleshoot the problem themselves. And they become frustrated. Consider this understatement from Jennifer Kent of Parks: "Consumers clearly desire a self-help approach first but need more effective tools to solve the problems on their own." Otherwise, according to the Parks document, they become frustrated, write negative reviews and return the products. And these folks are aged 35-44.

The cost of long-term care -- could technology help lower it?

What care delivery has seen an uptake in technology adoption? People imagined that post-Covid-19, technology would become much more compelling in all types of care delivery. And for sure, the pandemic institutionalized the role of in-home telehealth, with CMS reimbursement presumed to become permanent, or at least regularly renewed. In fact, 23% of respondents to a government survey had used telehealth during a 6-month period in 2021. Also for sure, the use of healthcare portals has seen increased penetration – in 2020, 60% of patients in the US were offered access to a portal, and 40% accessed their records through it.   

Five smart clothing technologies for older adults

The opportunity for embedded and AI-enabled sensors in smart clothing. The growth of the sensor market has created an opportunity for more focus on smart clothing, which has been around a long time, including for use in dementia care, but may have its greatest utility ahead. Researchers are beginning to notice the potential in the care of older adults, including the assertion that "Smart clothing is more natural to wear compared to the other wearables and covers a wider area for monitoring." Here are five examples of sensor-enabled smart clothing:

The Future of Sensors and Older Adults -- and other October blogs

So many really want to help older adults – yet so often ‘help’ can be elusive.   Look at the ludicrous amount of time it took to officially enable buying hearing aids over the counter. Look at the ten years or more between the first wave of useful sensor tech for seniors (2005 with GrandCare Systems) until the newer collection of offerings. And not least, look at the shortage of workers in the care industries and the obvious but elusive pay raise that would match the market of possible workers. Given the persistent (if perhaps wrong-headed) belief that 'aging in place' at home is the goal and that AgeTech is the solution, this should be the year in which pay is revisited and tech is deployed.  Or make that next year, since this year is winding down. Here are the blog posts:

Five 2022 AgeTech Trends That Matter to Older Adults

Taking stock of 2022 in AgeTech. We are approaching end of the year – it has been a good one for emerging technologies that can help older adults, today commonly known as AgeTech.  The timing is right – as 56 million Americans are now aged 65+, looming older population growth has awakened the sleeping giant. The investor and technology market, historically known for tech ageism, is beginning to wake up to the AgeTech opportunity. Why? As an aging population grows, the supporting labor force for aging services, both in communities and for in-home care, simply isn’t there, lured away by better pay across multiple sectors. What technologies can help mitigate this growing labor crisis in the senior care (home care, home health care, senior living, long-term-care) services market?

Why did FDA Approval of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Take So Long?

Was this a ‘breakthrough’ on hearing aid pricing? Mull over the phrase from the KFF announcement (italics are mine), “Prices and features will vary for the new OTC hearing aids — much as they do for prescription aids. A pair of prescription devices typically sells for $2,000 to $8,000. Some of the technology found in the pricier prescription aids will be available in the cheaper OTC aids.” This was also true of the Personal Sound Amplification Product” (PSAP), described in 2017 as being helpful to people with mild to moderate hearing loss. What took the FDA 5 years to complete final review of essentially the same technology available in 2017, especially when they were ordered by Congress to do so? Note hat 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss (more than 400 million worldwide) and most do not have any hearing assistance devices. Note that uncorrected hearing loss is correlated with dementia.

The Future of Sensors and Older Adults -- Looking Forward 5 years

What changes in care technology will be different later in this decade? Consider the implications of adoption of sensors to deliver and improve the care of older adults -- then look forward five years.  What will be different in this second technology wave, both from today and from the market a decade ago? Is this optimism justified?  Does the shortage of labor to serve the aging population make sensor technology essential in delivering care?  Many of the interviewees for this new report, due out in November, 2022, think that innovation in offerings, caregiving labor shortages, and a swelling demographic aged 80+ all combine to boost both utility and adoption across all care sectors.  What specifically might be different?

Did you miss one? Check out September’s Aging & Health Tech blog posts

September brings falling leaves, rising and falling hopes. Turns out that VCs are waking up to the opportunity in the longevity economy. Recognizing that people may live a lot longer, perhaps even to 100. How do you prepare for such a long life? Behold the rise of the active adult lifestyle, now enabled with a boom in 55+ rental communities. Combine that change with the ‘Forgotten Middle Market’ of senior living. Consider the Chicago Tribune article about tech for aging in place. Now add in the shortage of workers in home care, health care, and nursing homes. If there was a time to look at the role of monitoring and engagement technologies that augment and assist the worker in the care of older adults – it would seem that this is the time. Here are four Sept blog posts on these and related topics:

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