Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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2018-2019 look back and ahead at tech buzz, hope, and hype

Who can resist reflection when a year ends and 2019 begins? So much racket, so much of it driven by writers desperate for something to write about – and we’re not talking about the news. Lots of  negative tech energy in 2018, including healthcare data breaches, Facebook’s loss of trust, ditto with Google and its much discussed anti-competitive positioning in search. The visibility of Facebook management issues and Google competitive quagmire may actually be good for consumers.  So what was interesting in 2018 that was great news, possibly intriguing or just plain worth noting prior to CES 2019, which will present a cornucopia (or maybe just a plethora) of new tech and tech news? [Warning, more blog posts about CES next week while there].  A few topics that stood out:

Real Seniors lack essential technology – Consider an Older Americans Technology Act in 2019

When Pew stops tracking senior adoption, does that imply a market saturated?  Note this Fact Tank aggregation of technology adoption statistics (tech overall among seniors, last reported in 2016) – and the most recent data cited on Internet use, seniors were quoted in a 2016 survey, 44% of responders did not use the internet. Of those that do, older adults aged 65+ said they had little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks.  Let’s think about their non-confidence (not broken down into the 65-74) and the 75+ who are the Real Seniors

From Phishing to Smishing -- a scam for all seasons

Scammers are creative – each cell phone number is a 'smishing' opportunity.  It's the holidays, when scammers want to wish you the best of everything. How about a text message with a picture of the sender, someone you know, pitching a fund-raising and time-limited opportunity – in a category the recipient knows well.  Except that it is fake, finding the phone number because it is widely distributed. And as an added bonus, the sender extracts the picture from now-accessible contacts (easily scraped from LinkedIn, press releases, Gmail messages, etc.).  Scammers seize the opportunity and send you a very believable text message.

Recapping the most-read blog posts from 2018

Fewer software platforms, but new and more interesting offerings.  Two major changes happened in 2018 that are having and will continue to help older adults. First there is the significant uptake of voice-enabled technology, was forecast to be transformative, and so it was, in senior living, in the homes and families of seniors, and as an interface in newer cars to make giving and hearing directions easier.  Not so newsworthy, but perhaps more important, the hearing technology industry and audiologist specialty were disrupted in favor of self-service and offerings at a significantly lower cost.

Six offerings from The Washington Innovation in Longevity Summit

Networking is critical to entrepreneurs.  And most critical? Network with non-entrepreneurs -- those who can understand the offering and see a practical context into which it fits. The 2018 Washington Innovation in Longevity Summit, led by Mary Furlong, provided that opportunity. Entrepreneurs presented, exhibited, and networked with senior leaders from AARP, NCOA, as well as executives from government agencies and leading age-focused firms. Here are six of the companies that presented and/or exhibited at this event.  All information is taken from the websites of the companies and the list is in alphabetical order:

How the media loves to talk about loneliness among older adults

Shall we take this WSJ article at face value? Rant on. From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal – pops up a dramatic headline, The Loneliest Generation, describing how baby boomer Americans, more than ever, are aging alone. Did you know that ‘social isolation’ has become a named baby boomer health condition, spiking Medicare costs by an additional $134 per enrollee – tucked into the list that includes arthritis (+$117 of cost) and diabetes (+$270), source AARP?  Most of that additional spend was on nursing facilities and additional hospitalization.  Hmm.  What’s wrong?

Why talk to devices?  Because it is both possible and compelling

Who can and will be talking to their technology?  Quite a few people will, though it is hard to get a real number – which is ironic, since Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, etc. all know how many they have shipped. And they also know how many devices are back-ordered.  Maybe believe this one: could there be 50 million smart speakers in US possibly with some homes having more than one)?  On the other hand, according to Pew Research, only 66% of the 65+ population (46 million) have broadband access (that is, high enough speed) to enable a smart speaker in the home. Perhaps non-users are in rural areas. Or they live in parts of regions, according to Microsoft, that are significantly overstated by the FCC as having broadband.

Four Health and Aging Technology Blog Posts from November 2018

A short month saw plenty of food – and provided food for thought.  Many (54 million!) traveled during the US Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA.  It was month to think further about concepts introduced in October about caregiving technology – why is it so unclear what it is, who makes it, what is the form factor for presenting it and how should people be using it?  (More on that in future posts.)  Meanwhile, some thoughts about living to 100 – despite the endless repetition about shrinking life expectancy in the US, those that live past age 65 may last another 30 years…or more.  Perhaps this is a major factor in why older adults defer making moves to senior living?  (Just a thought.) More from the month:

That time of year -- considering technology gifts for older adults

Warning -- this is not a blog post about what to give to seniors. There are plenty of click-bait websites topping the search list, like Holiday Tech Gift Ideas or the lengthy Amazon tech gift list or even a list described as The 7 Best Tech Gifts to Buy for Seniors -- really? Maybe these are the perfect gifts – or perhaps for some family members, the DailyCaring list is appropriate. Among all these lists, there might be some intriguing items that could be welcome, if not necessarily practical. Don’t forget a set of portable batteries – extremely useful for all these devices during power outages. Okay that is enough about the What – and For Whom.

Living to 100 – will technology matter – and for whom?

What is the likelihood of living to 100 for older adults? Greater than you think – can you imagine that that by 2050, the number will grow from 72,000 to 1 million in the United States – in Canada, centenarians are the fastest-growing age group.  Today there are 450,000 centenarians worldwide – with the longest disability-free life expectancy found in Okinawa, Japan. Is society ready to accommodate double the number of seniors who will be living to 100 and beyond?  What will the experience be like – today’s centenarians offer a clue to how they came to live as long – genetics, healthy lifestyle, marital status. What these individuals were not, however, is socially isolated, as many of today’s boomers may be.

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