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Smart home devices are dumb about tech support

Smart home devices are not smart about tech support. The future of the smart home and older adult users has not quite arrived. It is just as well – younger device owners are struggling. According to Parks Associates,Households with heads of household ages 35-44 are the most likely to experience technical issues with their devices.” Not surprising, since that group owns the most devices These tech-proficient users try to troubleshoot the problem themselves. And they become frustrated. Consider this understatement from Jennifer Kent of Parks: "Consumers clearly desire a self-help approach first but need more effective tools to solve the problems on their own." Otherwise, according to the Parks document, they become frustrated, write negative reviews and return the products. And these folks are aged 35-44.

Older adults need vendor empathy to attain digital literacy

Picking on Apple because they are there, but of course they are not unique. What’s new with iOS 16 on the iPad? Tap this on an iPad and you will see a screen that demonstrates ‘Collections’. And behold there’s the SNOOPY Show. Below that, advice on how to share what you’re watching on Apple TV (pictured are several smiling youths).  So easy, on your Siri Remote, press and hold a button to open the control center, select the SharePlay button then choose what to watch together.  Oops, not supported by all apps.  Watch and listen together? More young folk. Add widgets to your home screen, ditto on the images.  See ‘Reduce background noise.’ That’s fun: Open Control Center, tap Mic Mode, then tap Voice Isolation to make sure your voice comes through loud and clear.  And so on. Go through the “Essentials’ and it’s more of the same – pictures are very cool, the people shown are very young.  Welcome to iPad! The instructions are required because the UI behavior varies across different apps and screens.

Digital literacy -- the required and moving target for older adults

Digital literacy – what is it? The term “Digital literacy” has been defined by the American Library Association task force as "the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills." Their definition of its importance began in the context of children and libraries. But its importance at every age, especially for older adults. Note that 25% of the 65+ population is not online. Yet for them, digital literacy is even more critical – when you consider how much useful information is available from or about our healthcare providers and related services. Consider the CDC definition of health literacy for individuals – "find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others." These capabilities are nearly entirely dependent on digital literacy – the ability to find and use information. Yet a new study just published noted that 91% of baby boomers felt overwhelmed by technology, with computers being the most daunting device.

Did you miss anything? Four Aging and Tech Posts from July 2022

July offered time to think about gaps and staff shortages. For example, we expect tech products to be more intuitive and usable than they are. So often we become mired in a swamp of settings, especially when upgrading to a new device or software version. Everyone seems to know someone who has waved a hand and dismissed even being trained on new offerings. At the same time, many are eager to learn and wish they knew how to know what they needed to know. Meanwhile, the labor shortage has impacted every aspect of senior care, requiring a rethink of financial health of the businesses and the role of technology. Occupancy in senior living dipped below 80% in 2021, though said now to be in a period of recovery --even as costs to operate and resident prices rise. Here are the four blog posts from July 2022.

“U.S. Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) Market - Industry Outlook & Forecast 2022-2027”

07/27/2022

DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE) The growing integration between wearable medical devices and medical alert systems like PERS and healthcare facilities will enable remote access to patient data and offer essential home healthcare services and improve patient safety and health outcomes. The demand for such integrated wearable devices has gained more importance after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They offer patients, especially elderly ones, safer, more accessible options for routine, preventive, and chronic care.

Is the 3G Sunsetting the equivalent of Y2K for Older Adults?

The 3G sunset has had plenty of warning, but will that matter to older adults? Many people do not remember much about January 1, 2000, the day all systems that stored 2-digit years would become useless calculators. But there was much preparation and so life went on, mostly normal. Will that be the case with the 3G-to-5G network transition?  The big three carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) are motoring ahead with this switchover to enable them to free up, as they say, faster and more reliable bandwidth.  But there are worries that they may leave some users with a phone that is nothing more than a useless brick.  Experts in the industry (perhaps consultants to the carriers) say "that there will be a mere few hundred thousand customers impacted at each carrier, totaling fewer than 1 million people." Really? With 300 million cell phones in use in the US (there are only 332 million people!) and AT&T acknowledging that 196 million of them use its network!

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