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seniors and aging policy

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seniors and aging policy

Five hearing tech announcements that could benefit older adults

Hearing technology advances -- the hearing aid industry considers changing. It’s a positive when you see disruption of industries that have too tight a lock on the consumer, whether it is in categories of health insurance, telecom carriers or hearing aids.  You spend time with people everywhere you go – those with significant hearing loss but no hearing aids; they have hearing aids, but hate to wear them.  According to a recent NY Times article, two-thirds of adults over 70 have hearing loss that warrants hearing aids, but only 15-30% of those wear them – and at $5000 a pair, no wonder. In recent years, personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) that are not classified as hearing aids and thus do not require the audiologist role, though the FDA may change that. Just asking, if the device is called a ‘Wearable’, does Silicon Valley find it more worthy of funding? But anyway. In July, Consumer Reports published an explanatory guide that should be required reading for organizations that serve older adults. It would seem to be the wild west of innovation.  Here is a sampling of five recent product announcements:

The Internet and loneliness among older adults

Research about loneliness among older adults matters -- to researchers! RANT ON. This past week produced an oddly-titled article: Researchers confront an epidemic of loneliness – among the elderly, focusing on the connection between loneliness and poor health and cognitive decline. This was not 'The New Old Age' -- quite  the contrary. The article described how much more advanced Britain is than the US in "addressing the problem of loneliness as it relates to health." Okay, okay. Why not attempt to address loneliness among seniors? So in Britain, consider this call-in number, The Silver Line, started by a 73-year-old woman, herself admittedly lonely following the death of her husband. 

Tech firms giveth to innovation for seniors – and taketh away

Sometimes the biggest firms lose interest in older adults almost immediately.  That was Amazon 50+. And some, like Apple, never get started, despite interest from their supporters or an integrator like IBM.  Others might get started thinking about a good idea – but within a year or so, executives hold a meeting and one of them says – 'What? What? When did we start to focus on older adults?' How is that a growth proposition, especially for the oldest old?  And so the companies get started, move a bit and/or cancel the effort altogether. Or like Google, they focus on the really far-end of the aging continuum – solving death.

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