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senior living

Bridge the gulf between CES gadgets and the lives of the oldest old

The fork buzz at CES versus the real world of aging and older adults.  I’m staring at and trying to make sense of two documents -- one is the CES list of tech offerings that target older adults and Digital health. The second is a conference agenda of an event sponsored by the Erickson School of the University of Maryland called Look Who’s Aging – comprised of business execs and industry leaders for the market of nursing homes, assisted living and related services.  While both of these events were really about the world of consumers and what they want, what I saw is more than a ‘digital divide’ – gargantuan gulf might be more appropriate. Exhibit A: the buzzing fork was there to remind you that you are eating too fast and too much. Right. But other than the fork, in the end, each of these events would benefit from a few bridges across that gulf.

When will families demand technology in senior care?

Wireless networks – they matter in home care and assisted living.  Adult children are letting home care and assisted living organizations off the technology hook, whether it is support for high speed Internet access, wireless networks, training staff on how to support social networking with long-distance family, or whatever. How do I know this?  Let me count the ways.  My own surveys – Future of Home Care Technology 2012, publicly available material surveying CFOs about tech investments (by Leading Age), conversations at MassALFA and finally with tech companies trying to sell technology to the senior housing industry. 

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The fine line between tech-enabled process and fraud

Smart phone plans: a super-sized way for carriers to make a buck.  McDonald’s now has to tell you the calories in a Big Mac, but Verizon and AT&T don’t need to warn you that watching videos on your phone will suck up the monthly minutes on your data plan faster than a vacuum cleaner picks up dirt. So while only 11 percent of the 65+ have smart phones, they are part of the 50% of households that have one or some.  Instead of being told upload-download speeds, storage capacity on the phone, and how to video conference the whole family in, how about giving you a WARNING sheet that shows price equivalents (like calories) of the various activities you think you want -- and how these activities fit into or drive up charges beyond your data plan? How about handing you a sheet that outlines all hidden costs? If that doesn’t make you blink, then ask what percentage of customers exceed these plans and what the average monthly bill is for customers with the type of phone you're considering?  And if that data doesn’t make you blink, you obviously can afford to both buy dinner and own the phone.

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