By Jason Brandt (@JasonDMG3)
Just a decade or two ago, that headline would have meant something very different. It would conjure up memories of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials for medical alarms, or those chair lifts you always wished you could play with as a kid. But today, the senior population is significantly more tech savvy. Theyre Skyping with the grandkids on their netbooks, texting their kids on their smartphones and going to grocery store websites to fulfill their shopping list online. The Greatest Generation continues to be great in their fearless adoption of technology.
And they’re even on social media. There are fifteen million seniors on Facebook. Thats 11% of all users, and that represents 1,448% year-over-year growth in that segment. Women 55 to 65 are the fastest-growing segment on Facebook. Adult-ed classes in Facebook are being snapped up. As one 64-year-old Wisconsin woman explained, “All I thought before was that people played games with it. I think now I’m seeing it’s a real utility. And whats more, they want to learn how to use Facebook well. She went on to say, “I didn’t realize how much of that [privacy] information got out there. I didn’t know how one could control it. I feel a little more comfortable knowing that – in fact, a lot more comfortable.”
Seniors are checking out local arts and entertainment, keeping in touch with family and friends – and even helping with real-world problems, demonstrated when a Michigan senior, snowed in helplessly, found a brigade of volunteers coming to shovel when a plea for help was posted on Facebook.
There are a variety of technologies – besides Farmville – that can help our elderly loved ones help themselves. Tech companies have realized the obvious medical need, especially considering that it is also, of course, an obviously large and growing potential profit source. Pharma companies also seem to have picked up on the same thing. But are they working together? Have you seen this happening…or do you have any ideas for how to make it happen?
There are a variety of examples to spark your creativity.
CareScout has been helping families find the proper kind of care for the senior citizens in their lives for nearly fifteen years. Often, this is a concern that people dont plan for until its upon them. High school kids research their colleges for years, but do you know anyone whos actively looking into which retirement facilities they want to choose? We dont want to think about it, which is why services like CareScout are so important.
Two years ago, GE acquired a small company called Living Independently, and now markets the QuietCare solution for older people living independently. Motion sensors throughout the living area learn normal movement patterns and timing, and alert caregivers when the seniors activity does not match their usual activity. Its unobtrusive, silent, maintains privacy and helps seniors feel looked after and caregivers know that wherever they are, they can be helping watch over their loved one. What an elegant technological solution to elder health care needs!
And heres one last freebie to get you brainstorming. There are many medications that are primarily taken by the elderly. Why doesnt one of those products provide an automatic pill-dispensing machine (like one of these) to their patients? Improve compliance, reduce over- and under-dosage, and help patients and their loved ones feel more secure. Shouldnt it be a no-brainer for us all to be doing everything we can to make the older people in our lives feel as healthy, safe, loved and valued as they deserve?