A great article in the December 14, 2015 Washington Post, The On-Demand Economy: Changing the Way We Live As We Age, explains how many new online services such as food delivery, rides on demand. and home services are making life much easier for elders who want to remain independent as long as possible. Most of these connect with easy-to-use smart phone apps.
The article authors, Luke Yoquinto and Joseph Coughlin, are affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab, a group that connects new ideas with technology and aims to improve the health and quality of people’s lives, especially as they age.
I’ve written a number of times about 24-7 monitoring services and personal safety devices. My mother-in-law was supposed to wear one around her neck for — well, 24 hours a day. Except that she didn’t. At first she wore it. Then she took it off with the rest of her jewelry each evening. Then she only wore it when we visited. Finally we cancelled the service, because she found the it was too intrusive.
When it comes to supporting elder parents, so much is about respecting their wishes and not assuming that your good idea is good for them. It’s also about asking what they want and how they wish to be helped.
Paula Span’s article To Reach Seniors, Tech Start-ups Must First Relate to Them describes the predicament well. The October 26, 2015 piece explains how ideas that people have for elder adult products are often not at all successful and, more importantly, not what people want. She also writes about the preoccupation of many product developers with monitoring seniors — something that seems important to well-meaning adult children but not to that many seniors. Continue reading →
A product that I may try to use with my family is CareZone.
An article in Fiscal Times, How Startups Art Profiting from Aging Boomers, describes how boomers and individuals in other age groups are creating new businesses and products that respond to the needs of people who are aging. Adult children may want to become acquainted with this business trend because products may pop up that are specially useful in the lives of elder parents. One product that I am considering for my family is CareZone(see right-hand illustration).
The April 4, 2013 piece, by Julie Halpert, points out that most boomers have a fair amount of money to spend on supportive devices if and when they are required. Moreover, it turns out that many of the people who are setting up aging-related businesses are themselves boomers.
I hope these businesses figure out a way to produce products that look like they are a part of “normal,” routine life for everyone, even if they are developed for elders. About a year ago I read about an especially interesting fact for product developers to keep in mind on Laurie Orlov’s Aging in Place Technology Watch. Orlov points out that people who are aging do not want to use products that look like they are for old people. Instead, they want products that look like anyone can use them but also have features that support a person as he or she ages. Continue reading →