Aging technology might sound like a negative concept as technologies become outdated and no longer deliver their results with the same efficiency. However since there are growing numbers of the population who are aging, any technology to serve them clearly has a bright future.
That is certainly the thinking of the not-for-profit Aging Technology Alliance™ (AgeTek™ for short). The Alliance includes over fifty companies and organizations dedicated to promoting the awareness, benefits and value of products and services for our aging society. The goal is to evolve into the world’s leading aging-focused technology consortium for the provision of products and services that can help elder loved ones to be happy and healthy as they grow older. However there is growing competition in this sector.
An article this week described the efforts of two well-funded corporate giants in a new Sacramento-area company that hopes to change the future of aging by using technology to help senior citizens age gracefully. They hope that their partnership, Care Innovations, can help shape the future of aging. The joint venture brings together Intel’s Digital Health Group and General Electric Healthcare’s Home Health division and was formed in January 2011. Their technology solutions for aging adults include products that monitor chronic disease, improve social connections, minimize falls, and reduce healthcare costs.
The company, led by noted healthcare evangelist Eric Dishman, is hoping for even bigger changes that would further revolutionize healthcare. Based on years of ethnographic research on aging adults conducted by Intel, they hope to become a major player in the growing telehealth movement – providing healthcare outside medical offices – which could dramatically reduce in-person doctor visits. For an introduction to his thinking, you could not do better than this TED video where Dishman pushes for the ‘removal of health care from the mainframe’.
The demand for such products is burgeoning since aging adults over 60 are expected to tally 1.2 billion worldwide (or 16% of the population) by 2020 and over 2 billion (22%) by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Data Base. This could well produce dramatic increases not only in chronic disease, but cognitive disorders and bone fractures from falls. Each of these, according to Care Innovations, can be reduced using technology solutions.
The company’s flagship product is Connect, a social networking and wellness hub that blends a wide variety of applications to optimize health: that includes online community interactions, brain fitness games, medication reminders, and other features.
With the current economic recession, aging at home may not be just a desire for aging adults but a necessity. Five out of six seniors now age at home, a number that is expected to increase since housing assets intended for retirement have eroded significantly. This often leaves seniors with no choice but to rip up applications for retirement communities.
The concept of nursing homes and retirement communities will change dramatically over the next decade. Retirement communities are already looking at new ways to provide services to adults who remain at home, such as home nursing care or other at-home services. “If these kinds of innovations succeed,” writes Dishman in the book Longevity Rules, “it is possible that in a generation or two, no one will even understand the concept of a ‘nursing home,’ except in history books.”
The Future of Aging with CAST
For a more graphic illustration of these technologies, view the following video, Imagine the Future of Aging, which was produced by CAST (Center for Aging Services Technologies).
The LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) is leading the charge to expedite the development, evaluation and adoption of emerging technologies that can improve the aging experience. CAST has become an international coalition of more than 400 technology companies, aging services organizations, research universities, and government representatives.