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When we're 84 -- considering the AARP Care Gap research

AARP’s Care Gap report sets the table for innovation possibilities.  Driven purely by population changes over the next several decades, AARP predicts that there will be fewer people in the age group (45-64) that can provide care to the baby boomer population when aged 80+.  Based on this model, says the report, boomers at that age will likely have various disabilities and thus may need some level of care. What technology categories would be useful and likely in-market with this multi-year lead time to think about them?  Of course, today there are millions of people who are 80+, but if you follow AARP’s logic, today there seem to be enough available family members, home care, nursing home and assisted living aides between the ages of 45 and 64 to care for them (emphasis on available). If caregiving availability shrinks, what are the technology implications for those who would serve that future wave of baby boomers?

  • Price of caregiving services will rise significantly. A given in a time of scarcity, we will need more and thus pay more for home care and assisted living services, which by then will incorporate monitoring technologies as part of level-of-service pricing. But higher prices will strain affordability for many adult children. So new models of care will need to be added to the service mix to meet the needs of a broader range of purchase power. These will include mix-and-match drop-in and adult day programs, particularly for those with dementia, and some may be offered in senior housing settings. For example, these services could include more transactional purchases for short respites – permitting family caregivers to go shopping or meet a friend for lunch.  It will be common see adult day by-the-hour programs similar to child care programs of today -- near or in supermarkets, gyms, parks and playgrounds, as well as corporate offices.

  • Those alone at home will benefit from ramped up communication and health monitoring. For those 80+ who live independently, video connection – with family, peers, and care service providers -- will be far more widespread by 2030. The 18% of the 65+ who have tablets today will have grown to near 100%.  So remote monitoring and check-in services of those who remain in their own homes will be common, propelled by nearby or long-distance family members. Or a professional caregiving service will provide a low-cost video check-in option in addition to services delivered in person. Professional care companies (and extended senior housing 'virtual' services) will offer a menu of these check-in packages to allow subscribers to customize frequency, device type, language and whether in-home and/or outside access is required. All-things-health monitoring of chronic diseases will be considerably more miniaturized, wearable, and ubiquitous -- raising ever more questions along the way about privacy and sharing of this information.

  • Mobile and security service providers will stop dabbling and serve.  As the baby boom wave crosses age 80, the numbers will simply be too vast to ignore. Carriers that play around in the mobile PERS market and security companies that did not take the remote monitoring opportunity seriously in 2013 will eventually get it. Telephone service plans will routinely be configured with mobile senior services that incorporate wellness, safety, concierge and activity monitors. When participants opt in, their data will be easily consolidated with other health information – like noticing that rising cholesterol and blood pressure data correlates with declining mobility. Perhaps that’s an opportunity to provide fee-based coaching contact – either from an individual’s health care provider or from a general and included service. At minimum, check-in calls will be standard offerings in conjunction with PERS-like services.

  • Standalone PERS will be supplanted by smarter phones that go the distance. The limitations of the standalone PERS market and today’s mediocre battery life issues of smart phones and mobile PERS will be long forgotten. Smart phones (Genius Phones?) will be customizable in ways that meet the needs of an enormous 80+ population, including support for variable touch along with view, speech, sound and level of privacy. Still, tech upgrades will continue and frequency will accelerate, changing features of apps and device at a breakneck pace. All ages, including seniors aged 80+, will benefit from demonstration classes and cafés in a variety of retail settings. Retailers will offer more in-store promotions like try-with-option-to-buy, coughing up wide variability in contract and service options that match the purchase power of the 80+ population. For frequent or ongoing training, options will range from on-device video to TV-based training channels to in-store video theaters -- and mobile training services that are as ubiquitous as the UPS truck.

  • En route to 80+, baby boomers drive incremental near-term market changes.  As the baby boomers age along their path to becoming the largest 80+ population EVER, product marketers and retailers with something to offer them have a long lead time to prepare. Unimaginative DME-type retailers will have a consciousness-raising moment, looking beyond their $34 billion market to evaluate strategies for 'other' categories. Beyond jar-opening gadgets and retailer upgrades to lighting, aisle and seating in pharmacies, shops of all sizes and types will accommodate. Remembering that baby boomers today have much more money than their debt-ridden adult children or grandchildren, others may follow in Amazon's path to develop a boomer-senior site -- and maybe outdo its lack of imagination. One day, noticing the local demography and missed sales opportunities, will store managers be trained to observe how many times an older person walks in and out without stopping? Or will they simply not notice a not-so-silent generation? In that case, perhaps boomers in their 80+ and beyond years will savor their online shopping experiences, customized in the privacy of their own homes.


Nicely done Laurie, a veritable smack to the back of the head of Tech co's.

Adult day care near shopping centres, higher wages for care givers because there are fewer of them ... sorry ... just not going to happen.

This is old think... projecting into the future by fiercely looking in the rear-view mirror. Medicare is becoming Medi-scarce, or systemic rationing as currently goes on iin many parts of the 3rd World. There is a generational resource war about to happen, unless a 'geriatric Manhattan program' is widely supported to solve the boomer geri-care bomb by those most at effect of it... local and state governments. Local welfare systems will be expected to actively handle the looming boomer aging/care crisis ... not Washington. Washington will only issue reports, more rules, and more incessant nagging. They will never get their hands dirty and do the real work. And this is a very dirty, big problem

Oldsters increasingly have profound mobility and cognitive issues .. and simply do not seek more socialization with new faces, or many new and unfortunately indifferent changing faces, whether in a nursing-home, geri-day care or other so called newly invented venue as a stop gap approach to true aging in place ... which implies safety, care, access to their social needs ( not ours), rehab, nutrition/meds, and home maintenance needs.

Oldsters value existing relationships and their core family, and want those enriched with more family access and better quality. Human nature has not changed that much and a overly e-wired technocentric approach, although helpful for some communication and health status measurements will not lift granny, toilet her, change her diapers, or give her meds or hugs, and certainly not at 3:00 am, holidays, or weekends. Enabling technology that will solve the scut work of geriatric nursing care is the order of the day. especially for the latter stages of frailty where 90% of the costs occur usually in the last 3 years of life. These 80 and older patients consume 50% of all health care resources per capita, yet are only 1% of the population. If your going to revolutionize geriatric care for millions of so called 'change-agent boomers' then we technologists will need to deliver a 'hospital-at-home' one that solves ADL's, stays wired for vitals within your local tele-med hospital nexus, and provide skilled nursing care through a practical nurse team, abetted by minimal, very low skilled, home-care help. This recombinant approach will lower legacy care costs by 80%, and rebalance general health equity for the rest of Americans by stripping the insane $75,000 to $150,000 a year for a dysfunctional, often unsafe and unsanitary nursing home which have become a default 'concentration domiciles' for high needs and all too often abandoned seniors. We don't need institutional nursing homes... we need 'nursing zones' in our own homes.

The need is already here. We need technology solutions to offer care and love to our elders and still cope with our own frenetic life styles. WWW.Stay-in-Touch.ca is one step in this direction. How important is "a few kind words" compared to a "Personal blood Pressure Monitor"? Is old age a sickness to be monitored or just a step in life to be dealt with respectfully and lovingly.


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