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Five technologies to mitigate social isolation in older adults

Social isolation has become an insidious problem among older adults. It’s at the point where the surgeon general recently declared it to be a serious health risk: "29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults. Additionally, lacking social connection increases risk of premature death by more than 60%.  Certainly one factor is the growth in the number of older adults living alone, including 44% of women aged 75+.  Technology’s role in mitigating it is being studied in research programs and healthcare. In one study of studies, the authors concluded that while it seems apparent that it can be helpful, specific technologies were not studied separately.  In another pilot program, Talking Tech, participants were surveyed as being less lonely following increased technology literacy and access to tools to connect with others and boost social interactions. And in New York State, the rollout of AI companion robot ElliQ to 800 seniors reportedly resulted in a "95% reduction in loneliness."

The death of landlines -- yes, it DOES harm older adults

You may not have noticed much about the death of landlines. But it has been underway for a while, and now the government is supporting their demise. For some time now, telephone companies like AT&T have been trying to eliminate landlines and are no longer required to maintain these copper connections. You probably think, well that must be good, because those landlines cost as much as $55/month. So that’s a cost savings, right? But wait.

For older adults, consider the context of tech change in 2023

Taking stock of the tech market for older adults – what’s happened? Past the halfway mark in 2023, it’s increasingly clear that the older adult tech market has been disrupted by changes in demand. Its increasingly transformed by new technologies emerging from new funding sources, tech disruption, and entrepreneurial initiatives. Some might say that tech adoption is still slow in some sectors, but it is not for lack of widespread funding sources and innovator motivation. What is the context for technology change in 2023?

July Blog posts -- fall detection, dementia tech, aging in place and more

And in other news, CMS really wants older adults with dementia to remain in their homes.  The government agency seems to have given up on improving the quality or affordability of dementia care in senior living or nursing homes. The new GUIDE program will support caregivers and ‘enable people living with dementia to remain in their homes and communities.’ But is that the best setting for dementia care? No way to share meals with others, access staff-run activities, and build on the expertise of caring for people with dementia that the senior-related industries already established?  Never mind enabling caregivers to enter a robust job market away from their homes. Just asking. Here are the posts:

Five Dementia Care Offerings in 2023

New progress for dementia care.  Home Care Magazine provided details about the just-announced Dementia Care policy changes, called the GUIDE Model, including care coordination services, support and payment to family caregivers to help keep care recipients out of nursing homes, as well as obtain respite help.  This is an 8-year program, and a part of the CMS Innovation initiatives. Notably, the GUIDE Model currently does not note or suggest any of the available technology, including home automation, that could improve dementia care. So here are five new technology offerings or update announcements, information from company websites or news media, that may help in the care of those with dementia:

Aging in Place – What goes around comes around again (and again)

Long ago 'aging in place' terminology emerged with a different meaning.  Forgotten now, it was briefly in Wikipedia to define the benefit of a continuing care retirement community where you did not have to leave the community if you required higher levels of care. And the term wandered over briefly to assisted living.  But it eventually stuck as remaining in your own home through thick and thin. And in 2013, it was promoted on the book circuit by former HUD director, Henry Cisneros about his 87-year-old mother – they were both insistent that she 'age in place.'  Which she did, until she died after a fall, isolated in her huge house after all her neighbors had died or moved away. 

Five tech offerings serving the family, senior living and home care continuum

The care continuum that serves older adults is an ignored reality.  The stove-piping of care-related services is a myth. It is perpetuated in associations, venture capital and public policy lobbying. Examples: Some believe family caregivers are a standalone entity that does not use care services. That committing to aging independently at home is a permanent decision. Or that home care a parallel universe to senior living. Or that workers in each of those do not also find work in nursing homes. Reality check: Family caregivers may hire home care services. Or they move loved ones to senior living. Senior living companies (and families) augment limited staff with home care workers. And depending on health, wealth or financial planning, many older adults will one day move to nursing homes, where the worker pool matches that in the other care services. Each part of the continuum wants to use technology to deliver better, more efficient, and health-aware care. Here are five– information drawn directly from the websites:

No surprise: Data underpins care quality in senior living and home care

For too many years, high quality data about care of seniors has been elusive.  Lack of standardization of technology platforms – or lack of care platforms altogether – hobbled the care industries -- senior living, home care, home healthcare. Yet the merger and acquisition of companies in other industries ultimately results in consolidation of data. Platforms matter—they enable data standardization which in turn fuels growth. Consider Jet Blue’s interest in buying Spirit, getting planes and pilots(infrastructure) that match its current business. Consider Optum’s acquisition of Amedisys home health business. Note its 2015 $72.5 million write off of a failed in-house software deployment process. No doubt, Optum’s own data standardization business will help integrate Amedisys if the acquisition is improved.

Fall detection -- does the PERS industry detect market changes?

Has anyone you know fallen and couldn’t get up?  If so, would you pick up the phone and call Life Alert, the purveyor of those miserable ads on TV?  This is not a fun company – read the reviews about working there. Philips launched its own Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) offering in 2005 through the acquisition of Lifeline Systems and gave up 16 years later, selling it to Connect America. Since then, Medical Guardian became a market leader ($100 million investment from WaterStreet), with Florence Henderson as spokesperson. And so some believe this is a viable (standalone?) market and believe that it has a low penetration rate into the potential market of worried older adults or their physicians and families.

Did you miss one? Four Aging and Health Tech Blog Posts June 2023

Six mobility offerings from AARP AgeTech Collaborative. AARP’s AgeTech Collaborative launched in 2021 with a splash (and 50 startups) that has widened into an age wave, or a sort of Match.com for age-related companies to find others, including collaborators, sponsors, pilots, and more. Today’s collection includes 104 companies, many of whom have gone through the AgeTech Collaborative Accelerator process, including pitch competition, Accelerator program enabling entry into the AgeTech Collaborative program. The categories span Caregiving, FemTech, Health, Mobility, Savings & Planning, and Social Connections. Read more.

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