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Ten tips for launching a product or service in the older adult market

Today or soon you will launch a boomer/senior, home care offering, wearable product or a new service to help seniors or other new market entrants. As your company gets ready to travel into an online event battle with a plethora of pitches, it is time for a quick review of this guidance. Check the list out before your new offering launches First read existing content and research reports on your particular market segment. Then look over this updated checklist that was first published on this website in 2010 and revised each year since. The advice continues to hold true – with updated links and references. If necessary, refine tactics to match the most useful tools for your category:

Hearing aids, the elderly, and listening to music

Hearing aids and music -- why is this so difficult to solve for the elderly?  The pandemic isolated everyone, but it may have been even worse for the hearing-impaired. Consider the oldest -- they are aged 85 or 86, love music and enjoy getting together with others in restaurants. The man loses one of the uninsured hearing aids and has to switch to backups that emit whistles or screeches, and cannot hear accurate sounds from a grand piano. The replacement cost of the single hearing aid is $2195 bundled with audiologist assistance. That pair worked well with his TVlink unit – enabling him to hear the TV at the right volume, and his spouse to listen at the broadcast volume. The older woman is isolated during restaurant lunch time conversation because she can’t sort out who is speaking – she is described as ‘looking lost’.  She also has a piano she won’t play because of hearing aid sound distortion.  Both can easily afford the best hearing aids, service, and guidance available. Both are frustrated at their inability to fully mitigate these issues.

Voice First Technology and Older Adults – Three Years Later

The trumpets sounded loudly at the arrival of Voice First.  The Future of Voice First and Older Adults was published in February of 2018. A re-read shows how excited the 31 interviewees and participants were, offering their vision of the future of this technology and its potential use by older adults. Has the future arrived in the world of seniors, senior housing, home care? Has the future arrived for the technologists who invented Voice First and the broad market of consumers who bought and benefited, from the early days?  Is voice first indistinguishable from magic?  That’s the way it seemed in 2014 to those comments from Witlingo founder, Ahmed Bouzid as he was interviewing for a job at Amazon – after interacting with the newly invented Echo, he wanted to stand up and start applauding.

Four Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from February 2021

Looking out toward the future – what trends matter most?  The lack of broadband access among older adults is worrisome in these days of online-only vaccine registration.  In years past, getting older adults online was a lower priority for senior advocates, social service agencies or healthcare organizations. News organizations rarely discussed tech adoption among seniors.  And survey frequency about Internet access had dwindled over a decade. Now even the Wall Street Journal tech writer searches ways to get elusive vaccine appointments scheduled for older friends and relatives. The New York Times notes that some older adults don’t have computers.  When the 2022 surveys of broadband access for the 65+ are published, will the numbers be much higher?  New government efforts are underway to offer cheaper broadband -- will older adults participate?  Stay tuned. Here are four blog posts from February 2021:

Tech-enabled home care 2012-2021 -- are we there yet?

The home care market is (still) a booming business opportunity.  Home care of various types now augments and even enhances services that not long ago may have been provided by senior housing. Pre-pandemic forecasts indicate 34% annual job growth from 2019-2029, much faster than average, and demand has no doubt been exacerbated during 2020.  Home care workers are also among the lowest paying and least trained occupations. Frail patients, according to insiders, are increasingly being discharged from hospitals directly to home, bypassing rehab nursing homes. At home, these individuals likely still require assistance with activities of dressing, bathing, medication management, food preparation and household tasks.  And many already at home and in assisted living need the same care.

Consider the potential for wearables and older adults

The watch changed the landscape for wearables. Since the introduction of the Apple Watch in 2014 and its subsequent sales of more than 33 million (as of 2020), Apple has been the dominant player in the US market. For the market of technology for older adults, it offered a smartwatch with built-in fall detection and other numerous health features, which it continues to introduce. By 2020, it became one of Apple’s 5 most profitable businesses and reached total adoption of 100 million globally. It changed many dimensions of life, including making people look and feel cool, reinforcing healthy behaviors -- including the importance of standing up when it notices you've been sitting too long. It made people want to track health variables they never thought they would track -- like heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, or hand washing frequency and duration.

Getting Older Adults to Tech Parity in 2021

More programs are emerging to get older adults to tech parity.  Maybe 2020 was the tipping point and 2021 is the year. The first eye-opener was the OATS/Humana report about the 22 million adults 65+ who lack home broadband. Then AARP and OATS joined together to teach tech to older adults. This followed late-year 2020 activity, including the $10 million in funding for tech training company GetSetUp. And note the $18 million of funding for Papa from Comcast Ventures to combat social isolation in older adults and launch tech-enabled health offering called Papa Health. And there are efforts here and there to help seniors get or upgrade computers.

Care options for seniors...tech included

Aging in place – it’s emerged (again) during these Covid-19 times. Déjà vu all over again. But ‘aging in place’ is still a challenge and maybe a pipe dream for seniors in their late 70’s or 80’s.  Consider a few issues for starters:  chronic health conditions, mobility limitations, stairs, snow/ice, driving, dangerous hills for walking, cognitive issues, and social isolation.  You get the idea.  Then there is the cost of 24x7 home care, same as assisted living (which is $67K/year in Massachusetts, for example) or even Genworth’s 44-hours of home care ($53-54K annual).  That may work for the most well-to-do seniors.  But families are still in a position of finding and then managing the care workers, even with agency assistance. So Mom or Dad stays at home as long as feasible and even beyond – and that’s why the home care industry today is booming. And competing for the same workers as senior living firms pay their CNAs

Aging and Health Technology blog posts from January 2021

Time for the Market Overview Technology for Aging 2021. It’s a new year and the baby boomers turn 75. It took the combination of 73 million boomers, a pandemic emergency, and the sheer size of the aging population to transform a 2009 market niche into this 2021 market category worthy of investment-- less about products specifically designed for older adults as it is about the marketing of many existing offerings as useful to them. But this is January, 2021, in the time of Covid-19 and the time of the all-digital Consumer Electronics Show -- this time with at least 70,000 online attendees from around the world and the tech industry -- and so new companies are surfacing with technologies that will generate interest and even excitement during 2021. Learn more.

Older adults and broadband access -- picking up the pace of adoption

What is broadband and why should seniors want it?  The buzz about broadband and older adults has grown louder since the start of the pandemic – which worsened social isolation for so many older adults. A just-released report sponsored by the Humana Foundation and OATS called Aging Connected, made the case that nearly 22 million seniors (age 65+)  lack wireline broadband access at home. Not a surprise -- that follows other reports over the past year or two like Pew (2019), which noted that only 59% of the 53.7 million aged 65+ have home broadband.  This new report has a point of view -- despite surveys that indicate that people use their smartphones (wireless versus "wireline") to access the Internet, truncated screens can be problematic. The report notes difficulty with financial and document management/editing – as well as limitations in using social networking and engagement technology.  Issues have often been noted that act as barriers to accessing services like telehealth for example. In fact, lack of access to a portal for vaccine appointments has recently emerged as a new broadband divide.

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