Carol Marak, aging advocate and editor at seniorcare.com, earned a B.S. in social services and a certificate in gerontology from the University of California Davis. She writes for The Huffington Post, about.com, homehealthcareagencies.com, assistedlivingfacilities.org and more. Her syndicated column, "Aging Matters," is published in local and regional newspapers throughout the country.
National trends in aging cry for solutions to transform senior care because the boomers will soon overload the long-term care system. The astonishing growth rate of boomers nearing retirement puts pressures on federal, state and local programs and support services.
The population of those 65-plus in the U.S. will reach 83.7 million by 2050. This should startle technologists into a disruptive development frenzy. Because there is no end in sight for health care costs to reduce any time soon, aging care needs to be more efficient.
Seniorcare.com uncovered a few of the challenges the senior industry faces:
- To allow seniors to age in place, and provide them with a supportive community
- To provide seniors with opportunities to invest in others, so they feel valued as community assets
- To prevent injuries, illness and crises in older adults through early intervention, and streamline the services and interaction between service providers to reduce costs associated with intervention
- To connect seniors to the available resources that impact their quality of life within the community
- To help seniors and their caregivers navigate existing programs and resources
The problems are real, and they need solutions fast. If you want to tap into a market with increasing demand, the aging experts at seniorcare.com suggest these disruptive ideas to Consider the following answers from aging experts to the question, “Given an unlimited budget and the best tech team on the planet, what technology would you build to transform the senior care industry?”
Anthony Cirillo, The Aging Experience: Senior transportation is one of the biggest issues facing elder care. Being isolated and socially deprived has consequences. While Uber and others have stepped up, a complete solution is lacking. One call, email or text to a central hub should be able to activate transportation solutions in a geographic area and seamlessly pay for it, while assuring safety and quality.
Tim Murray, Aware Senior Care: Develop Autopilot car technology (GPS, voice command, wireless camera technology and services) for those who lose the ability to drive themselves could still get around.”
Harsh Wanigaratne, Spedsta: When we first deployed our mobile app aimed at solving older adults’ transportation problems, one of the remarks we received was that seniors didn’t have the technology. We found the real issue was usability. A better focus on making apps easier for users would be a tremendous step forward.
Ai-jen Poo, Caring Across Generations: I would design high-tech homes that support independence and quality of life for seniors and their caregivers. The home design would include collaboration with fall-prevention experts and ergonomic equipment to prevent injury on the part of caregivers.
Ginalisa Monterroso, Medicaid Advisors: I would invent robotic home health aides for the senior care industry. Seniors would have access to hands-on care and would never have to worry about relying on anyone for care.
Kathy Birkett, Senior Care Corner: I would develop a whole-house automation technology solution with a menu of options that can be tailored to meet the needs of each senior. An intelligent sensor would monitor the health and safety of the person and make a report when the senior’s situation met designated parameters, thus maintaining everyday privacy.
Steve Hays, Artower Advisors: A humanoid robot that can assist with all ADLs and display empathy. That would transform the industry.
Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., My Better Nursing Homes: What seniors need most is technology that allows them to maintain independence. Can they open and close the windows by themselves? Does a burner on the stove have an automatic shut-off the way the coffeemaker does?
Digital Wellness and Wearable Devices
Joy Loverde, The Elder Industry: Proactive wellness wearables that have an education component. People are motivated when they see results. The device could measure fat, calories, weight, sugar levels and blood pressure.
Mike Padawer, Inertia Advisor Services: Simple, wearable and highly useful technology would allow real-time sharing of information for doctors, nurses, caregivers and family, which could allow more seniors to monitor care rather than create acute situations that are drivers of high-cost care.
Gjenes Belamide, Bay Alarm Medical: I would build a 100 percent guaranteed working fall detection system worn like a watch. The system would not only detect falls, but it could track steps/sleep/remind the user to take meds. It would have built-in GPS, a speaker for the user to talk to emergency dispatchers and family members.
Family and Medical Team Communication
Shannon Martin, Aging Wisely: Technology that increases connectedness and communication. I envision a system that combines a lot of what is out there now. It needs to be well-designed and simple; right now we are just working with too many systems.
Michelle Jeong, Reminder Rosie: Often, families and care providers operate in information silos, making it hard to collaborate and communicate a loved one’s daily care. LifeAssist’s latest product, Circura (a connected day-to-day care management app), removes the hurdles by offering an actual end-to-end care platform to connect anywhere and to any device.
Rhonda Caudell, Endless Legacy: Tech to connect a family member or professional with the older person and to have eyes on them. With cameras around the home, the same person can get an environmental and identify safety issues. This access could also provide social chats to alleviate isolation.
Gil Van Bokkelen, Athersys: Innovative regenerative medicine therapies to address areas of the substantial unmet medical needs in the aging population. It would have a transformational impact on medicine.
Martin Kimeldorf: A friendship site where people can connect. Connections are powerful medicine and need constant watering. We have to find an alternative to the social media monopoly that steals identities, sells your privacy and bombards us with ads.
Alex Chamberlain, Easy Living Florida: I would focus on providing better training to senior adults on how to use technology. I would also create ways to incorporate more technology training for home health aides/nurses to ensure they know how to use the tools that are available to help patients.