Everything and nothing is in the caregiving innovation frontier. Slogging your way through the enormous market scoped in AARP Caregiving Innovation Frontiers report, one can see how care-giving has become commercialized, pushed off-course and reduced to data gathering & business promotion. Business innovation & offerings are no longer the result of published studies, but produced at a 3-day hackathon (like Witness) and don’t really fit into the caregiving world. Based on “data”, they get funded and then they’re no longer a standalone business, like BeClose, Lively, Isowalk, and DoctorAHA.
Who is that caregiver anyway? Browsing through icon logos, an image forms in the back of your mind of the caregiver as a San Francisco smartphone-wielding yuppie – who’s probably related to or knows a care recipient – but is too busy or too lazy to provide care themselves. Most, if not all, technology companies in the senior service/care arena are really in the data-control business, the more data they can control the more powerful they become.
The technology is only a byproduct in gaining the power-position; because of this data control position they can also be in the forecasting/predictability business, making money from multiple data streams. Which begs the question – is this form of senior technology therefore really focused on the customer’s sustainable independence?
But the report offers another image – is this the real message? The AARP ‘frontiers’ report doesn’t highlight technologies within the category of caregiving – implying instead that tech, online services, and loosely related subjects are all potentially relevant for caregivers who don’t self-identify and thus could be almost anyone.
And senior technology is not about those “vaguely” described 60 or 65-year old’s, or empty-nester, or their children – senior technology is for the older-adult, 70+ who wants to stay in charge of their own life in a truly sustainable independent way. This is where senior technology needs to shine, however, this is most difficult and truly very unchallenged.
What if there is no ‘Senior’ technology category? Perhaps ‘Seniors’ who are sometimes 50+, sometimes a vague group subset (60, 62, 65? Other?) will have technology needs & interests that vary just as widely. Many may want exactly what their adult children and grandchildren are using. A different sub-group may want to make sure hearing or vision assistance are features, voice recognition is feasible, app menus can be customized to a short list. These features can all be placed or customized on smartphones, tablets, and desktop or laptops right now – no longer requiring specialized hardware software.
A commenters view. First let’s define ‘Senior’ as the Older-Adult, 70 to 100 years of age, with this established we will see that the process of aging is for ALL a different process, very challenging and very unknown as to applied-technology in supporting the aging-process. This field is called “Gerontechnology” – it is very specific and very un-glamorous. A societal challenge not yet taken on by many.
The medical world has succeeded in adding more years to our physical lives, but technology as a contributor to sustainable independence, has not yet touched the areas of really adding quality of life to the years we have gained. This field of Gerontechnology is very special and very specific and cannot be added into the pool of general technology to fit the masses. So, my plea is for an even more specialized category, a category for the aging process in which the senior at any age can fully participate in the support process.
As technology has encouraged the medical world to come down from their ivory tower, let’s not have technology build its own. Democratizing senior technology is still and un-known SPECIALIZED field.
Read Article (Laurie Orlov | ageinplacetech.com | 02/02/2016)
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