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Laurie Orlov's blog

Beyond Facebook -- finding other ways to share

Once upon a time, there were photo albums. You know, the kind that have leather-like binders, with plastic covers for the prints. People would buy extra prints for their friends and relatives after a big event like a wedding (remember wedding albums?). Binders would fill bookshelves (remember bookshelves? They once held books). Then along came Facebook so that families could keep up with each other’s kid and dog photos. A study in 2013 noted that this was a bit worrisome -- "people don’t relate well to those constantly sharing photos of themselves." How quaint. It turns out that populations don’t relate well to sharing of political slams, holocaust denials and incitement of riots and genocide. Defensive in the face of the WSJ series, though, Facebook insists things are under control. 

Consider Facebook and its negative impact on young and old

Shining a harsh light on Facebook – the company. Founded by a near-teenager in 2004, the company is a social networking monopoly, with 91% of revenue in that market that includes messaging (What’s App, Facebook Messenger). It also owns Instagram (one-quarter of its 2019 revenue). With 1.84 billion daily users, it is top of mind for marketers – and some 200 million small businesses reach their customers nearly exclusively through its platform. It is a regular news source, though ironically not trusted for political news. The news about Facebook is more compelling than the news from Facebook – including this week’s Wall Street Journal reports of Facebook applying different rules to a select subset (5.8 million) of its users, including allowing them posts that include harassment, inciting to violence or other bad behavior. Who uses Facebook? Well, most people, according to Pew: Facebook is used by 77% of US women, versus 61% of US men, with women aged 25-34 representing the biggest user group. Older adult usage of Facebook has dropped from 62% of the 65+ in 2016 to 50% in 2021. But that could be the result of family migration to Instagram for photo sharing.

The more tech changes: A decade of older adult Technology Surveys

Few of the oldest are ever surveyed about tech adoption – least of all using paper. Link-Age Connect has surveyed the oldest about tech use since 2011, with periodic surveys fielded to older adults via their member organizations. In 2011, that represented 122,000 residents drawn from its member communities across 22 states.  The member communities in 2011 distributed 5000 paper surveys and got back 1789 completed, a 35% response rate. Many were completed with assistance for people with limited vision or mobility. All were transcribed for analysis and use in the published report, Technology Survey Age 65 to 100, Extending Technology Past the Boomers.  In 2011, 71% of the responders were older than aged 75. 

Four Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from August, 2021

August should have been a sleepy month – but no. Multiple interesting acquisitions during August make tech and older adults intriguing. Early in the month, the largest franchised home care company (Home Instead) was acquired by a tech upstart, Honor – to ‘scale up home care’. Connect America, which had already acquired the 'aging and caregiving business of' Philips Lifeline, then acquired a remote patient (RPM) monitoring startup and AI-virtual assistant company called 100plus. Investor interest in age-tech startups is growing, older adults are certainly aging – synergy between these phenomena will certainly follow. The blog posts for August:

10 barriers to boosting tech adoption by older adults in 2021

Technology access is a vital sign.  Non-adoption is not an option. Post Covid-19 we have reached a technology dependency level that is worrisome (see remote hacking), problematic for young people (see social media impact), positive/negative impact on depression in older adults. But when viewed in aggregate, lack of access may be worse. Consider categories like smartphones and text messaging, voice assistants, wearables, cameras, computers, tablets, digital health, medication management, home security services, fall detection, fintech, hearables, location tracking, online shopping and more. What? You know older adults who could use a few of those categories, but likely are not. Why not? Perhaps they are worried about barriers, from A to Z:

A new data source to help track technology adoption and interest

It’s a slog searching for data about tech adoption of older adults.  So many years of searching and trying to understand gaps in adoption, less and less usable data. Survey organizations exist that track adoption by age (think Pew Research, Nielsen, AARP) – but the frequency with which they publish surveys about technology has diminished over the years.  Checking out the main page of Pew, for example. See how so many other topics are more click-worthy than their Internet and Technology material.  AARP’s tech surveys are annual – and this year slipped into April. Others like Forrester, Gartner, and Parks Associates survey, but do very little analysis based on age.

Honor buys Home Instead – a shakeup in the home care industry

Honor buys Home Instead: one of the newest acquires one of the oldest.  Honor, a recipient of $255 million in total investment (Series D in October, 2020), has pivoted here and there since its $20 million-fueled launch in 2015, always intent on disrupting the home care industry. For a while, many in the industry were skeptical. They viewed it as a threat – see interviewee comments in 2017’s Tech-Enabled Home Care.  Honor began as a home care company, then a home care tech platform company and buyer of smaller home care companies -- bulking up prior to Friday, when it acquired the largest home care company in both the US and UK– Home Instead.  

Five intriguing new offerings for older adults

Innovation is booming in categories to help older adults.   Perhaps it’s not surprising that innovation focused on older adults is ramping up – mitigating issues of social isolation, wander risk and safety, engagement, caregiving, financial management and many other categories. Not only was last year a bad year for older adult life expectancy at 65, the older adult (65+) population is still growing and a sizable number, particularly women, will live an average of nearly 20 additional years.

AI, Broadband, Privacy and Flip phones – Four blog posts from July 2021

Nobody wants to live in a nursing home. Yeah, yeah. We get it. The NY Times offers up an opinion echoing what Politico writers and all older adults believe -- until the need actually arises. You’ve read those echo chamber opinions (and about the Green House alternatives with 10 residents each) for the past 19 years. The traditional nursing home model of 100+ residents (funded by Medicare for rehab and Medicaid for long term stays) was declared dead in 2009. Still, there are at least 1.4 million seniors who live in traditional nursing homes today. Why? You know why. Older adults with dementia or other high-care health issues, economies of scale for staffing, cost of private pay assisted living, cost of private pay home care, no near-by or any family members. No news there. Changing the subject, here are four blog posts from July 2021:

Online privacy – when did we notice it was gone?

We should not accept that we are the product, always sharable.  From Amazon Sidewalk bandwidth sharing to always listening devices to smart assistants saving us from typing to recommendation engines (“If you liked this…”). The assumption derived from our behavior with new tech innovations? We have bought in – unless we go to ridiculous lengths to avoid having our data and information used (or abused) online. Consider ways in which algorithms still make mistakes that the individual referenced cannot easily correct.

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