Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Real Seniors Are Skeptical About Smartphone Tech


Real Seniors are rightfully skeptical about technology such as smartphones.  Surveys are world-renown as the foundation for design/marketing of the technological marvels – but they don’t include real seniors.  Here’s the pitch to investment groups, the board of directors, the distribution partners, the audience.  Yet for the oldest adult markets and product segments that need seniors, the real seniors – those individuals aged 75+ are rarely surveyed.  At least as far as we can tell, because their responses are dumped, clumped and lumped into the 65+ group.

The mission of Link-age breaks the mold and surveys the very old.  And this matters – life expectancy lengthens, and so does the market for offerings that meet the need of older adults.  Since 2011, the organization has fielded surveys of older adults about their use of technology.  First they fielded a paper survey (2011) that revealed interest but little ownership – 70% of the 1789 responders were over the age of 75.  Then in 2013, Next Generation Response Systems received 1114 survey responses, 53% of the responders to another paper survey were over the age of 75.  In both of these surveys, smartphones were not, uh, popular among the oldest group.

It’s 2016 – Link-age fielded another survey, expectations about technology have changed.  This time 401 older adults are surveyed via an e-mailed link, again more than half are aged 75+.  While smartphone ownership has grown, it is still obvious that as age range rises past 75, smartphone ownership drops – and the comments sharpen from individuals aged 80+: “Life is NOT a constant emergency.  With navigation systems, no one has any idea where they are in relation to the world.”  And this: “In spite of all the advances out there, it is virtually ruining our youth’s manners.”  But also: “It’s the future…I have not wanted to be left behind.”

Look at your smartphone – carefully.  Put on your (mental) age suit.  Imagine it is you who has had an easy-to-use clamshell phone that enables you to get a call and a text message from a family member.  Now pick up your smartphone – that device that does triple duty as a camera, calorie counter, map, search engine, newspaper, note taker, calculator, music player and wake-up alarm.  For starters.  Remember that 50% of the 75+ population (Pew) is now online, compared to 7% online fifteen years ago.   Why don’t they want this remarkable device?  “New gadgets seem to be programmed by young people who assume that the user will know what to do in a confusing situation.” Exactly.

Read Article (Laurie Orlov | | 04/15/2016)

While Pew Research reports how senior smartphone ownership has grown, many seniors explain the high tech devices they own were gifts from family members but they remain in their boxes, unused.

And while marketing has failed to include real seniors in their survey’s, they should be paying attention to another statistic: “Senior Citizens control about 33% of the wealth in United States, and miss-representing them in survey’s “does not show them Respect.”

Shame on the entire industry.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars

The Internet, Social Media & The Savvy Elderly


Many might think that social media is the exclusive domain of the younger generation but that’s not exactly accurate.  Many of our older adults have enthusiastically adopted it to keep up with the times as well as their old acquaintances and younger family members.  Grandparents are becoming proficient in extra-terrestrial things like Skype and Facebook and they’re liking it.  It has become a healthy emotional outlet and word of its benefits has spread like wildfire among the elderly.

According to the Pew Research Center, Internet use among those 65 and older grew 150% between 2009 and 2011, the largest growth in a demographic group. Furthermore, their 2012 study shows that of those that go online, 71% do so daily and 34% use social media.  The elderly use these tools to bridge the geographic gap between them and their loved ones far away and as a way to re-connect with friends from a far off time.  Studies show that the Internet has become an important portal for reducing isolation, loneliness and other depressive symptoms of aging.

Seniors emphasize the informational and educational aspects of the Internet, using it in an encyclopedic fashion to visit government sites or research financial issues.  Many of the elderly have uncovered the beauty of the digital travelogue and the value of having a book review available through a simple click.

This gateway to the outside world is critical once the elderly become homebound.  While teens have moved on from Facebook, the older generation has found that it serves them quite well.  Seniors have discovered that Skyping is a great way to bring relatives from faraway destinations right into their living rooms.  Twitter has become popular for keying into specific news sections they want to follow.

While their younger counterparts use social media in a “selfie” sort of way, the elderly, who are very sensitive to privacy issues, use it to connect with like-minded individuals. They use it for health information and to connect with others experiencing the same challenges.  They have recognized that others in their stations in life are also online and have used it to start discussion groups for life and health issues pertinent to them.  From dementia to depression to diabetes — all can give and receive support from the comfort and convenience of their home.

Doctors and other professionals have keyed into this demographic and set up social media pages to take advantage of this customer and patient outlet.  Groups for the elderly experiencing specific ailments as well as groups directed at their caregivers are all set up for those elderly who are increasingly availing themselves of this supportive network.

Computer classes at senior centers are growing in popularity.  Classes on computer basics as well as instruction in using email and other social media platforms such as Facebook have become more common.  In fact, the Jewish Council for the Aging in Washington, D.C. offers an entire Senior Tech program. has a whole program called University Without Walls specifically designed for seniors who are homebound where they get to participate in stimulating classes and lectures through their computer or tablet.  Local AARP chapters also offer computer basics classes and sometimes partner with vendors for discounts on the hardware.

Research shows the Internet has become an important way to exercise the minds of seniors.  A new study out of England and Italy finds that when the elderly are trained in the use of social media as well as Skype and email, they perform better cognitively and experience improved health.  During a two-year period, 120 seniors in the UK and Italy aged 65 and above were given specially designed computer training and were compared against a control group that did not receive any.

Among those that used these tools, their mental and physical capacity improved as opposed to a steady decline experienced in the control group.  One woman reported feeling “invigorated” rather than “slipping into a slower pace” and caring more about her appearance and losing weight.  It seems that satisfying our basic social needs can have synergistic effects for our overall health.

Overcoming loneliness is that much easier through the Internet and social media.  As more and more of the population ages and sticks closer to home, the Internet as a support and educational tool becomes ever more important.  Technology has greatly ameliorated the potential of our seniors feeling isolated and alone.  Let’s help them take advantage!

Read Article (Anita Kamiel | | 03/07/2016)

I agree, let’s help them take advantage.  But there are many seniors that don’t have local access to training like this, where they can meetup with like-minded folks.

But our service can give them that face-to-face instruction & provide a chance for questions and answers right from the comfort and convenience of their home.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars

Five Characteristics of Digital Health Market Maturity


Failure, success or both?  This week is the kickoff of Aging in America (includes middle agers) and the ‘What’s Next Boomer Business Summit.’  So it’s time to consider what’s next after the bugling and missteps of so-called Digital Health.  Gartner did the Digital Health industry a service at the end of 2014, though given all the hype and hoopla, it was likely missed.  From their chart, we can see projected peaks in interest in quantified self, smart robots, mobile health, and wearable consumer interfaces – all of which was big, big, big in 2014. And a UK consultant seized the day and created the Digital Health Hype Cycle Chart.

However, something happened during 2015.  Investors were likely disillusioned with consumers and mobile health – and the term Digital Health took-over, much of it, wait for it…Health IT!  Was it because of an abandonment of fitness wearables?  Did they really expect everyone to buy a smartwatch because of Apple?  That really depends on who you mean by everyone.  What was the real reason behind Digital Health funding dropping $1.2 billion year after year?

Or maybe they weren’t disillusioned at all?  Is it a market when a category is in the kitchen sink of genomics, wellness, doctor productivity and mobile health apps?  Consumer categories that include patient or consumer experience top the list, followed by wellness/benefits and workflow.  Hmm – are those consumer categories?  At the end of 2015, MobilHealth News gave up and decided to call the whole shebang “Health Tech.”  Is this tech for consumers?  Not so much.

Gartner’s cycle, notes that eventually markets do mature.  So what would maturity look like in the Health Tech world as it applies to boomers/seniors?  Will the smartwatch be the center of the boomer universe?  Maybe if the font is enlarged and they never need charging.  Right now Apple is fixated on doctors, who may not appreciate all of the business partnerships reflected in that watch.  Tablets were the center of the innovation universe in 2010 – now sales (not just iPad) are declining as phones become ever-larger.  Is the mature Tablet Market one in which the devices are turned over to seniors?  Will that also be true of smartphones, where 56% of the boomers that have them, don’t like mobile ads – and according to Deloitte, they may not download ANY apps.

Five characteristics of Digital Health Market maturity.  What would boomers want to have in our mature Digital Health world?  Well here’s a starting list – comments welcome.  1) Their ‘privacy is well protected’ by their insurers, doctors, software, social network and device makers; 2) Their ‘health information is well-integrated’ into the multi-company health provider world – no need to carry around those CDs of EHRs; 3) Trends in their health patterns are noticed by care providers who use ‘predictive analytics’ to not possible problems; 4) Boomers do less driving to specialists, more ‘remote consultations’, which are appropriately reimbursed through Medicare; 5) Fitness gadgets are replaced by ‘well-being devices and systems’.

Read Article (Laurie Orlov | | 03/21/2016)

The article refers to the Aging of American and boomers but don’t get this twisted, we are all aging.  And the five characteristics apply to all ages of Americans; What age group would deny themselves or their family any of these five?

Digital Health and Digital Literacy are undeniably tied to one-another.  It’s in everyone’s best interest to get a little tech-savvy for their own wellbeing and that of their loved ones.

Our instructional webinars provide a long-term solution to help address Digital Literacy and how to use products of technology such as computers, mobile devices and gaming consoles. But your support is needed to make this happen.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars

Our Aging Population Impacting the Digital Era


Between 2010 and 2050, the senior population is expected to reach 88.5 million, or 20 percent of the U.S. population, greatly increasing the need for senior care.  Home health care will then become an even more significant element of the continuum of care.  As our elderly population increases, it will require higher levels of health care that are more affordable and can be delivered at home.  Many seniors have a strong preference for where they want to receive care.  Multiple studies and surveys have shown 80–90% of seniors prefer to age at home

For these reasons, home health care will play an increasingly larger role in health care at large.  Hospitals will benefit from reduced readmissions and the government penalties that result.  Family members who care for their elders often experience a burden from caregiving—home health care can provide much needed respite.  For elderly people limited in their daily activities, home care offers benefits.  Toileting and bathing are easier, they have better mobility and they can enjoy cooking and companionship.  They can live in a familiar environment where they feel independent, relaxed and secure.

Medicare’s coverage for home health care does not currently match the demand.  Non-medical home care is largely not covered.  Coverage for medical home care is quite limited.  Medicare should review policies in this area in light of the lower cost of home health care, its favorable impact on recovery and the preference seniors are expressing for it.  For many, home health care may be an interim step to home medical care and then nursing homes.  But if the elderly have their way, they want to stay home.

Robots in Home Health Care

Robots will take on a wide and significant role in home health care in the years ahead. There is a shortage of nurses in health care.  The number of elderly is climbing and so is the number of retiring nurses.  An even larger shortage may develop for home health care aides.  The demand is growing because one percent of chronically ill patients consume 22% of health care expenditures.  Elderly patients get shuttled back and forth to multiple providers often resulting in a poor quality of life for them and their families. Telehealth shows promise as a method to provide a larger share of the care in the patients’ home or residence, potentially reducing the demand for nurses and aides.

2016 Market Overview for Aging in Place

Wearables will matter.  Devices like Microsoft Band, Wisewear emergency jewelry, or any of a myriad of PERS offerings will penetrate the older adult market – by 2019, one out of five boomers/seniors will have some type of wearable on their body, whether it is smart clothing, a pendant or a band on their wrist.  Recognizing that combinations of capabilities are becoming more relevant to older adults and families, by 2019, most PERS resellers will offer more subtle mobile devices, including watches, combine the transactional PERS activity with predictive analytics – helping to prevent future injury and the penalty of re-hospitalization.

The population aged 75+ becoming more comfortable with the Internet. Pew Research has long-tracked Internet usage through its Internet and American Life project – the survey has been running for the past 15 years and including the population aged 75+.   Non adoption of the Internet has dropped from 93% non-usage in 2000 down to 50% in 2015.  What was the context? Over 15 years, browsers and carrier speeds improved – and content the Web became more valuable.

Simplified and senior-specific devices lack a long-term market.  Simplified tech (for aged 75+) can provide modified tablet interfaces – but as the AARP RealPad proved, specialty versions for the elderly have limited long-term potential.  Newer, brighter, faster smartphones will replace tablets, and easier-to-use smartphones or smartphone interfaces will dovetail with market disappearance of the traditional clamshell phone.  For seniors to keep up, training is critical – including refreshers from the carrier or company that provided the device.

Read Article (Dr. John R. Patrick | | 01/01/2016)

Yes, the topic of an aging population does include you!  And the list of things we tend to take for granted should NOT include our Senior Citizens.

Every four months or so, there’s new technology of some-kind announced or introduced.  Every time this happens, technology is leaving another group of individuals behind and one day you will be in that group that’s left.  I know you’re saying “no way” but yes, “way.”  By supporting us today, you’re really helping yourself tomorrow because we can keep you, tech-savvy.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars

Teens Acquaint Seniors with Mobile Technology


In New Buffalo, Michigan, a group of 19 senior citizens began the process of becoming acquainted with the world of portable technology on Monday, March 21, at the New Buffalo Township Library.  Library Director Julie Grynwich said the Teen Tech Tutor Program is a collaborative effort between Harbor Country Communities for a Lifetime (HCCFL) and the Library.

Funding for the 20 iPad Minis distributed Monday came from a “Fudge-Raiser” sale by Chef Jackie Shen of Jackie’s Café, a matching grant from The Upton Foundation, a donation from the Larry Bubb Endowment, and other contributions.

Grynwich said the program has given 20 local seniors the opportunity to “own a little piece of technology.”  But that’s just the beginning.  “The cool thing about this program is that we give you an opportunity to work with some of the young people in our community,” Grynwich said.

Once Hillary Bubb, co-chair of the Harbor Country Communities for a Lifetime board, had handed out the iPads (19 of the 20 people chosen via a random drawing from those who applied and were able to attend), 10 members of the library’s Teen Advisory Group fanned out in the Pokagon Room to help everyone get off to a good start.

The Library’s Youth Services Coordinator, Susan Schab introduced a group of participating teens slated to participate in the initial orientation tutoring session after noting that, familiarity with technology “is like breathing air to them” — Maria Baughman, Nina Gropp, Sydney Moore, Zeke Bennett, Megan Wilkinson, Oliver McNeil, Destiny Mitchell, Liz Ramsey, Jack Gessler and Jesse Arp.

Schab said the program also provides a chance for teen-agers and seniors to interact.
“We’re very happy that so many teens have stepped up to do this.”  She later said that there are more than 40 youths in the Teen Advisory Group at the library.

Further tutoring sessions are scheduled for Mondays at 5:30 p.m., with those unable to make that date and time asked to set other schedules with the teenage volunteers.

Grynwich also said that area senior citizens with their own devices who have signed up also will receive training this spring through the end of May.  The program will not take place during the summer, but may return in some form next fall.

New Buffalo High School junior Liz Ramsey, who helped George Smith learn to begin using his new iPad Mini during the session, said she enjoyed helping people she sees in the community learn something new.  “He got it pretty quickly,” she said of her student.

Jack Gessler, a seventh-grader at New Buffalo Middle School, said the people he worked with were very nice and learned quickly.  “They actually were pretty good at using them already,” he noted.

Jackie Selir said she enjoyed her first exposure to the iPad (her tutor was Nina Gropp), although she still has to get it to accept her email address.

Elbert Chase of New Buffalo (his teen tutor was Megan Wilkinson) said he was quite impressed by the iPad mini.  “It’s just amazing how many things you can do.”

The HCCFL organization’s mission is “to create a vibrant, healthy Harbor Country for growing up and growing older.”

The Board of Birectors includes:

  • Bubb, as co-chair and at-large member from New Buffalo;
  • Tom Hackley, co-chair and at-large member from Chikaming Township;
  • Secretary Adam Umbrasas, municipal representative on behalf of New Buffalo Township, Three Oaks Village and Township and Chikaming Township;
  • Treasurer Rich Kochanny, Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce;
  • Tim Hawkins, River Valley Senior Center;
  • Christine Vanlandingham, Region IV Area Agency on Aging;
  • Kim Gallagher, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission;
  • Nikki Britton, Berrien County Health Department, and Joanne Sims, Friends of Harbor Country Trails.

Another effort involves plans to establish an affordable senior housing project to be built by the New Buffalo Area Schools’ building trades program in conjunction with HCCFL and a local property owner.

Read Article (David Johnson || 03/23/2016)

There is a need to assist people who want to learn how to use these devices of technology, as demonstrated by these and many other students across the country doing what they can.  These outstanding students recognize the fact that technology has left these individuals behind and has made little-to-no-effort to assist their learning.

The plight of these millions in this situation is really no secret, it’s just not an issue that commands much media attention.  But it has our attention and it is what our service is designed to address.  Unfortunately, because we choose to address this issue and have very limited funds, we also don’t command media attention.

So we reach-out through postings such as this.  Please help us help them with your support.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars