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The Census Really Knows: Tech usage and the 65+

When it comes to people, the US Census has all the data.  From its American Community Survey (ACS) summary files and detailed tables, we know as of November, 2021, for example, the US population (315 million), the number of housing units (133 million) and whether they are owner-occupied. Further, it tells  the number of people in geographic locations, education and marital status, employment status (173 million), the percent aged 65+ (more than 55 million as of the date of the most recent survey).  The questionnaire is publicly available on the Census website. While many of the questions are intriguing (and used for redistricting) and the data results are much-reported, technology ownership is rarely discussed.  So here are some snapshots of changes in the ACS data from 2015 to 2021: 

Isn't it time for a Voice-enabled Tech Concierge?

Tech complexity for new users is getting worse. And it’s pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention to Apple new releases, new versions of Android phones and other apps like Spotify. And then there’s the PC that runs out of memory – just encountered yesterday. You want to see what that means by checking the manual.  How naïve.  No manual.  So you do what everyone who has just encountered an error message does.  You search the tech forums, find the example of what happened and voilà, there’s the fix. Certainly that must be what senior living residents and older adults living at home do, not to mention the of-course sizable tech staff working in senior living and elder care. Oops.

Leave no trend behind – yet another PERS smartwatch ticks on

Another long-time PERS player sees a watch, makes a watch. Rant on. Last January 2021, WaterStreet, a healthcare investment company, coughed up a mind-bending $100 million to Medical Guardian, a long time (2006) privately-held PERS provider, to ‘fund expansion.’ Medical Guardian already had a PERS watch (from Omate) – which Amazon reviewers did not love; other than HELP and telling the time, there wasn’t much to it anyway. By June 2021, they partnered with Black&Decker to offer more PERS capabilities – a wearable with fall detection, but maybe that lacked a wow factor. So the newly developed one has more features – including step-counting, a voice-assist charge warning, and communication (from the watch) with a care circle. With deep pockets, Medical Guardian can afford to develop its own device – and maybe this one's the charm for current customers, though it lacks fall detection.  Otherwise the market has moved on.

To boost tech adoption, consider the benefit of a survey

The ACS will size tech adoption – and not a minute too soon. We might learn from the upcoming American Community Survey (ACS) data release which households have broadband connectivity, own a computer or other devices – down to a level of granularity that includes that rarely surveyed category, age 85+. And we may be able to examine age in relationship to tech ownership. In 2011, as part of the Linkage Technology Survey of Adults age 65-100, the report observes that there are few surveys of technology ownership among the older adult population.

Ten apps to help those with hearing loss

Hearing aid users need smartphones and apps. The hearing aid industry has been undergoing disruption in recent years, most notably from the Over The Counter initiative and the growth of hearables, which have legitimized the use of devices hanging from, versus hidden inside the ear.    There are some apps that can enhance the quality of life of individuals with moderate or severe hearing loss. A number of these have been discussed by audiologists in the TruHearing website. Audiologists support the use of multiple types of apps for those with hearing loss, particularly those apps that come from the hearing aid manufacturers themselves. Experts note that these apps enable the user to tailor their experience to their own needs. Beyond the manufacturer offerings, there are a number of apps that can help people with a broad range of hearing loss – hear are ten of them in alphabetical order, content from the reviews or vendors:

Tech for quality of (an aging) life

The rise of AgeTech – it is a trend. It’s easy to say, and it resonates -- especially compared to other long-standing terms like assistive technology, gerontechnology and durable medical equipment (DME). Parks Associates published a useful chart this week about the Changing form factors of panic buttons – take a look. But that was not the real subject of the article (thankfully). Rather, it suggested that while form factors are changing (from pendant to smart watch to home sensor technology), the shortage of labor in the caregiving market means that tech to help 66 million caregivers matters more than ever. In fact, one in five ‘broadband’ households is currently or will soon care for a family member, likely remaining in their own or a relative’s home.

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