Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Aging technology

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Aging technology

Considering Technology Adoption -- AARP’s 2008 Healthy@Home

AARP research highlights changes in technology adoption.   What a difference more than a decade makes. Consider a long-ago AARP document that examined technology use of the 65+ population. Remember Healthy@Home in 2008? You probably don’t, but you should read it. Kudos to Linda Barrett who led the production of this milestone report.  The iPhone had just been released in June of 2007, so this survey did not ask about smartphone use – there was no Digital Health (a "check engine light for your body!"); the Longevity Economy hadn’t been invented; Fitbit was a 2007 new clip-on tracker, and Facebook was still a campus toy. The survey was fielded in December of 2007 with a population of 907 adults aged 65-98 (the mean age was 74). This population is rarely surveyed today, despite the growing lifespan of the 65+. Much was revealed, though it is another example (as if we needed one) that the more things change, the more they don’t.  

The fall tech/aging circuit -- events for your calendar

Out and about in the fall. Especially for startups, going to events can reveal contacts that you may need or initiatives that you did not know even existed. Over the next few months, there are a number of events around the country worth attending if schedules permit and interest areas match. Useful, besides sessions themselves, are exhibit areas where vendors offer new and existing solutions for the target audiences of the attendees.  For those who do not attend, check the exhibit hall online after the event if the organizers make that feature available.  Here are five upcoming events to consider – the information provided is from the websites of the organizers:

Design for all – what we wanted and what we got

Here’s a test. Can you look at a list, for example, of technologies that vendor websites claim are aimed at older adults and their caregivers -- and substitute younger beneficiaries or health care recipients?  Do designers who develop applications, devices, and websites that appear to target older adults do that exercise of substitution as they proceed from concept to pilot to delivered offering? Was that what was meant in the concept ‘design for all’ in this prescient report ‘Connected Living for Social Aging’ sponsored by AARP in 2011?  Per the report’s definition of ‘Design for all’: User experiences that appeal to all age groups, persisting across versions and devices 

The Venn Diagram of Health, Aging, and Caregiving

You see it in the media and hear about it with investors.  Digital Health is in its bubble of $8.1 billion in 2018,  which amounted to 8.6 % of VC investments, despite limited exit strategies – but investors love it.    Startups focused on the aging/technology space, however, receive only 0.7% of venture capital investment, including the big money ($115 million to date) that has gone to just one company.  (And that company is quietly pivoting to become a home care consolidator/platform company).  Meanwhile, over at the $30 billion (2018) home care market, a worsening shortage of workers in the midst of demand growth, is creating a recruiting near-panic among agencies, senior living firms and families, and produced.

Linkage – A rare survey of technology ownership among the oldest

When there’s nothing else to buy. Funny about technology ownership among the oldest – generally there is no way to know whether they own any or if would they buy it. Neither Pew (in 2018) nor AARP (2019 technology ownership) broke out upper age ranges. So Link·age Connect is an outlier that asks ownership questions and documents age breakdowns of responders, half of whom were age 75+. This 2019 Technology Survey of Older Adults Age 55-100, conducted online, notes that 80% of respondents (45% of whom live in senior-oriented communities/housing) have smartphones. At this point, if the mobile phone breaks, what’s the store rep going to promote, and it doesn’t matter which store? While they carry flip/feature phones, an iPhone or an Android phone can be used just like a flip phone. More than 50% of respondents have smart TVs (yes, that’s nearly all you can buy these days).

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