Family Caregiver Technology Survey — Please Help Us Help You

Supporting family caregivers in your efforts to make better the lives of senior loved ones is the mission of Senior Care Corner®.

One aspect of our work is keeping you informed regarding technology that can, either directly or indirectly, help make seniors’ lives healthier, safer, more comfortable – – or just plain fun.

Through our ongoing coverage of all things technology, including CES® the annual technology innovation showcase, we work to keep you informed regarding tech that is currently available and innovations still in the pipeline.

We have learned over time that the Senior Care Corner audience has a wide range of knowledge, interests, and experience when it comes to technology and thus a variety of needs.

We have developed this short survey to help us better understand your needs and tailor our reporting to better meet those needs. Your response, which should take just a couple of minutes, will be used by us to design our future technology coverage and deliver information to you.

We appreciate your assistance and hope you will pass this along to others as well!

Simply click on your answers below. Please scroll through each of the questions and click “Done” after the last question to submit your responses.

Thank you for your help!

 

Create your own user feedback survey

CES 2019 Recap – Innovation for Everyday Life and Beyond

There were, as expected, many new and interesting tech developments on display at CES® 2019.

Some were interesting albeit not useful a least for home use. A huge appliance taking up otherwise useful space in the home to fold laundry? Really? And who really needs to bake 10 loaves of bread in their kitchen?

But there were also products that continue to advance toward the category of life changing and enabling for seniors to continue to age in place as they desire, with safety and happiness.

Technical buzzwords were flying all over this greatest gathering of technology innovators in the world – CES 2019. This year, it was encouraging how many will specifically impact our seniors and the family caregivers who love them, many of whom may be footing the bill for the new tech and/or responsible for setting up and maintaining it.

Key Observations from CES 2019

We saw a number of buzzwords and trends across CES 2019 that we believe will be important for seniors and family caregivers. We plan to spend more time on these in the future, but want to identify them now to get you, as caregivers, familiar.

  • Tech impacts all aspects of our lives
  • 5G
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Needs of those with hearing loss
  • LIDAR
  • Autonomous vehicles

It’s impossible to cover these topics completely in a few sentences. In fact, some of them will take entire articles to address over time. In this article we will discuss the topics within the context of CES 2019 and expand from there over time.

Tech Impacts All Aspects of our Lives

CES was, for a long time, called the Consumer Electronics Show, which really painted a fairly accurate picture of what was prevalent. We could find televisions, sounds systems, and all sorts of gadgets for nerds.

How things have changed!

This year, for the first time, we got the feeling there is no part of everyday life that was not addressed by the innovation at CES. That will not thrill everyone, of course, but there are benefits in most of it for everyone.

CES had innovation for sleeping, eating, working, relaxing – – even going to the bathroom! There were focuses on tech for babies through the oldest adults for health, fitness, transportation, and, well, everything.

Even more importantly, though, there is tech for every aspect of the lives of our senior loved ones.

5G

5G is the next generation of wireless communications technology promising much faster communications speeds. It is not just for our phones, though.

Improving the speed and viability of connections with 5G in our devices and powering technology doesn’t just mean that the smartphone will work faster or we could download a movie faster, but older adults will be able to access their healthcare professionals, transfer health data, and get the help they need in a more efficient way.

5G will power communications for devices across our homes, including appliances, outlets, switches and so much more, keeping them from bogging down what are already overloaded wireless networks in many homes.

It will also connect digital devices across our communities giving such things as traffic systems, electric grids, first responder systems, and increase communications speed and reliability.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, will definitely improve the in-home care received, home sensing systems, and usable medical devices our seniors and us as family caregivers will be able to use.

Check out information about the age of AI in our recent article, Why AI is Important to Seniors and Their Family Caregivers.

As an update to that article, we encountered two companies, CarePredict and Cherry Home, already incorporating AI into monitoring systems for seniors’ homes to personalize the monitoring.

Needs of Those with Hearing Loss

We were pleasantly surprised by the attention and number of solutions we found for those with hearing loss.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, though, as tech companies have realized the buying power of the older adult market and hearing loss is one of the problems faced by those who are aging – – but really those of all ages.

While traditional hearing aids were on display at CES, highlights for us were advances in cochlear implants and the adaptation of earbuds to be hearing enhancement devices. Now there is a full range of products for those with hearing loss, starting at price points that are much more attractive than in the past.

LIDAR

We heard about LIDAR (think radar using lasers) all over CES. This is the technology that is going to let our devices, from cars to home monitors and more, “see” what is needed to operate effectively.

We saw a number of LIDAR-generated images in different contexts – they looked like pictures out of The Matrix – and it is amazing how well defined the nature and dimensions of the digital pictures are without providing privacy-invading personal detail.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous (self-driving) vehicles continue to be improved and in the next 5-10 years (optimistic) experts agree we could all be involved in driving in the backseat. In the meantime, how would you feel about ‘autopilot’?

It seems that the auto industry will be able to take more baby steps in the direction of vehicle assisted driving as we are seeing in the technology in our cars right now like lane assistance and parallel parking, automatic braking, and more. The sensors and systems being installed in our cars now will only continue to advance to provide for greater safety.

Tech for Seniors and Caregivers Abundant

There are many products that we found roaming the 3 million square feet of show floor packed full with exhibits.

Here is just a sampling of some of the helpful things we found that we see as viable for our senior loved ones as they age in place and family caregivers who seek to facilitate the highest possible care we can provide.

  1. Home monitoring systems — including AI-enabled systems from CarePredict and Cherry Home that learn about seniors and incorporate what they learned into the monitoring processes
  2. Connected home — devices that not only engage the senior but talk among themselves too
  3. Digital health and eHealth improving devices
  4. Voice first communications — using Google Home, Alexa, Siri, and all the home products that are partnering with these assistants to bring a truly connected ecosystem to the home
  5. Home medical diagnostics — including connected home devices for blood pressure monitoring, home EKG, ultrasound, medication management, blood clotting prevention, Omron BP watch, hearing tests, and MORE
  6. Wearables — not just fitness and GPS trackers but now hearables; devices are also becoming truly “wearable” being incorporated into clothing
  7. Home security — this remains a big area, with the number of both vendor and DIY systems expanding as are their capabilities
  8. Caregiving robots — many people may envision the Jetson’s Rosie but the reality of caregiving robotics is more simple and ultimately in the future more accessible than that. No one, even the developers, anticipate it should or will replace human caregivers but instead augment a shortage of caregivers and relieve family caregivers of at least some burden.
  9. Telepresence devices — such as OhmniLabs product are built not only to give necessary services and connections to alleviate loneliness or isolation of aging in place seniors but to be affordable. The inventor said he scaled down design knowing that cost to caregivers is key to getting the product in use. We agree.

There are many other robotic applications currently providing companionship which is in itself welcome therapy. In the future we expect to see more hands on care given such as medication dispensing or simply fetching a glass of water. Eventually, in the years ahead, we may see physical caregiving and ADL assistance performed but that is not a goal in the foreseeable future.

Combating loneliness, providing supervision and another set of “eyes” that can ease the mind for working family caregivers while being a hub to coordinate reminders and treatments are true near term solutions that robotics can offer seniors and family caregivers. We already see them being used in items like Joy for All and MobileHelp.

Tech Future Looking Caregiver-Friendly

The greatest advance that we see is that family caregivers will have more access to tech devices that are are being manufactured to work together.

Going away are the days that each device stood alone with its own app. Now we will have hubs that make having a connected home a one stop destination. Not only will family caregivers be able to use them more efficiently and remotely, but seniors themselves will be able to comfortably use these devices.

Another great improvement for family caregivers to helping their seniors gain benefit from technology is the DIY aspect of technology devices. They will be easier to purchase from big box stores such as Best Buy and to install via Bluetooth.

We won’t need to run wires all over the home to connect security systems or safety sensors but instead use the air waves to connect. We may still need help from companies to totally convert homes but adding a few specific devices can be done ourselves.

Data and Security Big Considerations

Discussions around CES delved into access to broadband, use of data collected, and the security of the systems used for data collection and storage.

Having access to broadband in all homes, regardless of their physical location (urban vs. rural) will be key to success. Cost of broadband service will hopefully not price seniors out of the market and deny them benefit from technology.

Another big concern is security. Where does your senior’s health and personal data go once collected? Who has the ability to use their data and do we approve of this as a fair trade off for its benefits are questions, not only for family caregivers but consumers in general.

Unfortunately the jury may still be out on the regulatory aspects, which may stall manufacturers from working to secure their products. Until someone tells them they must, will they? Transparency concerns of the general public may drive manufacturers to more tightly control security of the data measured in all tech devices and that is our hope.

Innovation Focus

Whew, we had a tough time covering the entire exhibit floor at CES 2019 and can’t adequately cover all the innovation we found in one article – – or even in a series of articles.

Coming soon is a whole new site-within-a-site for Senior Care Corner®, to focus on innovation that improves the lives of seniors and their family caregivers. That includes technology, services, care, and each area in which we find innovation about which caregivers would benefit from knowing.

Stay tuned to learn more soon . . .

 

 

Why AI is Important to Seniors and Their Family Caregivers

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is everywhere at CES® 2019 and may be the hottest topic in conference sessions and on the exhibit floor.

There are 490 exhibitors in the directory under the heading “Artificial Intelligence” and it seems like most of the other 4,000+ are talking about it as well.

With all the benefits of AI being touted for independent-living seniors — well, for everyone, really — it’s enough to cause a conscientious family caregiver to say “I have to go buy an AI for my senior loved one.”

No, you can’t buy an AI.

Then again, many of the technology devices, appliances, cars, smartphones and more we buy in the future will have AI in them — and that will be a good thing. Strike that, it will be a GREAT thing.

Then again, we already are impacted by AI in our daily lives without even knowing it.

What Is AI?

As with a number of terms, we have seen more than one definition of artificial intelligence. This may be the most straightforward, though:

Artificial Intelligence is when machines perform functions that, if done by a person, would be considered to require intelligence, such as learning and problem solving.

We saw a poster at CES, created by LG for its AI products, that seems especially appropriate for application to our senior loved ones. Think of a machine or digital device that takes this approach:

We think the best way to help you is to learn deeper about you.That’s why we work to understand your needs, your habits, your preferences, and even your moods.

As family caregivers, we know the care we provide our senior loved ones is the best we can do because we know and understand them and what they are going through. Ideally, the technology we use to support us in caring for them should do the same.

AI Caregiving Examples

Maybe the easiest way to understand what AI will mean to our senior loved ones is with a few examples comparing AI-enabled support to what we might expect for current technology.

Activity Monitoring

Current technology: Sends a notification if the senior is not out of bed by a predetermined time in the morning.

AI-enabled technology: Knows that the senior did not go to bed until later than normal and, when that happens, she typically stays in bed later. Thus no notification is sent.

“Wandering” Dementia Patient

Current technology: The senior’s activity tracker notes he has left the house when not scheduled to do so and provides notification as programmed into the technology.

AI-enabled technology: Observed that the senior’s best friend came to the home for an unplanned visit and, as typically happens when he visits, they went for a walk. Thus no notification is sent.

Injury Detection

Current technology: Home monitoring system notes senior moving about the home and provides no notification of needed action.

AI-enabled technology: Observes the senior is limping significantly and displays facial expressions indicating pain. Because the senior was observed having an unusual body movement (perhaps a fall) the prior day, the system determines there is an injury that may require medical care and sends notification.

Conversational Companion

Current technology: Companion robot or device carries on conversations with senior, responding to questions and providing feedback to the senior’s words, but provides no medical feedback based on the interactions.

AI-enabled technology: Companion robot or device carries on conversations with senior and notices changes in questions (including repetition), words used, and mood change overtime. As a result of observed changes, device provides notification that senior should be reviewed by a physician for potential Alzheimer’s diagnosis or depression.

These are but a few examples of the many benefits independent living seniors can realize from AI-enabled technology in their homes.

We Prepare Now to Help Them Prepare Later

The future benefits of artificial intelligence for our senior loved ones are the reasons why we believe family caregivers should start now in understanding AI.

If we are ready for AI to enter their homes, we can better help them prepare and accept the technology.

Remember, even the best, most intelligent technology will not provide benefits if the senior doesn’t allow technology into the home and put it to use.

Stay tuned to Senior Care Corner® for more of what we learned at CES 2019 regarding AI and other useful technology for seniors and family caregivers.

 

 




CES 2019 to Showcase Tech Impacts Throughout Everyday Life

It’s two days before CES® 2019 officially opens so things are quiet, right? Not so fast!

Media events started today, meaning lines, crowded rooms – – and the beginning of the information flow from the greatest show in tech.

More than that, really, as CES 2019 looks more than ever to give us insight into the world of our everyday lives of tomorrow.

If Walt Disney were designing EPCOT right now, he would be at CES learning about the innovations that will define our world of tomorrow.

We hear much about technology trends today, but saw one event that may be one of the biggest signs to come out of CES 2019.

Proctor and Gamble, maybe the name most associated with everyday life, is exhibiting at CES for the first time and held a press event today. That a traditional consumer products company, one we would not associate with technology, is here truly speaks to the connection between the innovation on display at CES and our lives.

Tech Trending in Our Everyday Lives

Sure, technology has always impacted our everyday live and CES has always been a showcase for tech such as TVs, computers, audio systems, appliances, and more.

Things are different this year, though, with the innovations on display and being discussed at CES addressing more areas of our lives than we have seen previously.

Here are but a few of the areas of impact we saw on display on the first day of CES activities.

Healthcare

Yes, technology innovations in healthcare have been part of CES for some time, but this year they are addressing more and broader areas of our lives, with more of the solutions intended for consumers rather than provider of care. These are just some of the topics addressed.

  • There is more than ever before about mental health, a needed focus area of late in healthcare overall.
  • Innovation addressing brain health, with recognition of the devastating impacts of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Telehealth, changing the way care is providing and increasing access to care for many.
  • Advances in home health devices, making it possible for more seniors and others with chronic illness to live independently.

Even Smarter Homes

For years we have been seeing and hearing how many aspects of our interactions with our homes have been changing as they become connected to us digitally. That continues to advance.

This year, though, the smart home focus seems to be turning more to devices communicating directly with each other, reducing the need for human interaction to provide us benefits.

Sure, some will see these advances, with our homes becoming not just connected but intelligent, as unnecessary conveniences and even intrusive, but for many of our senior loved ones these advances will mean the ability to live independently even longer.

Digital Privacy and Security

Our increasingly connected world has resulted in the creation of more data on us in the last few years than has been generated in all the year that have come before.

Unfortunately the abundance of data has led to well-founded concerns about how that data is used and how secure it is in the hands of those collecting and keeping it.

This slide, part of the “CES 2019 Trends to Watch” presentation from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) shows the interaction of many of our new technologies and how we see them in the marketplace, with part of the impact on us being our security and privacy in the digital world.

Continuing Evolution of Technology

Once concept we found particularly interesting was the idea put forth by the CTA that we are entering a new age of technology, the data age.

Thinking about it, we do take being connected to each other and the world around us by technology for granted. We don’t, for example, think about our broadband internet connections until they are not performing as expected or even not keeping us connected at all.

With everything and (hopefully) everyone being connected, technology will be defined more and more by the data about us and our lives that is being created and how that data is being used to make our lives better.

Oh, yes, and how we are protecting that data from being misused to our detriment.

One Product to Remember

There were MANY things that caught our eyes as we moved from table to table in CES Unveiled today. Learning about each was like trying to work in a room full of squirrels, as there was always something in the corner of our eyes.

We encountered one innovative product that we think will be of interested to family caregivers with loved ones who have chronic heart failure. You may be surprised to hear it is a t-shirt! No, this is not just any t-shirt, but a true wearable.

Chronolife has developed a wearable solution that discretely tracks patient data while they go about their everyday lives. Through the user’s smartphone, data is sent to the healthcare provider, who is able to monitor patients in between office visits.

Tracking alone would be a meaningful solution, but Chronolife’s wearable goes further, with predictive capabilities that allow for action to be taken before the next event occurs.

This device will not be available directly to consumers, but will be prescribed by healthcare providers along with instructions for its use. By making family caregivers aware of it, we hope to provide information about a potential solution you and your senior loved one can discuss with their doctor.

More to Come from CES 2019

The half day of media activities at CES 2019 whet our appetites even more for what is to come.

We look forward to sharing more with you throughout the event and afterward.

For real-time updates on items we feel are noteworthy for family caregivers, follow our tweets on @SrCareCorner.

We are CES Ready!

 

CES 2019 Preview — Planning Complete (Sort of)

CES® 2019 is just about upon us and our planning for the event is complete!

Well, mostly anyway.

You know that old saying, “planning the trip is half the fun”? With CES, planning the trip is half the stress.

With so much to see and do at CES, with the 2019 version looking even bigger than ever before, deciding what to do with the limited time there is very stressful.

The other half of the stress will, of course, come next week, when we try to get it all done. With nearly 200,000 other people at CES trying to see it all themselves, just moving can be a challenge at times.

CES Challenge by the Numbers

The challenge of planning for coverage of CES and then carrying out that plan is the sheer scale of the event. Numbers alone don’t tell the story, but these will give you some idea.

There are over 2.75 million square feel of exhibits — that’s 57 football fields — spread over multiple locations in Las Vegas. That’s a lot of walking, shuttles, rideshares, and rides on the monorail. Mostly walking.

In addition to the formal exhibit space, there are conference spaces, auditoriums for keynote speeches, meeting spaces, and MUCH more throughout CES.

At last count, there are 4,545 total exhibitors. More on these below.

407 conference sessions are on the schedule, with multiple sessions going on at most times. That means we couldn’t cover them all if we wanted. Most of them will have long lines and will fill to capacity, with many would-be attendees unable to get inside the meeting room to listen.

Yes, just thinking about all this gives me a headache!

In addition to those numbers, we have already received hundreds of emails from exhibitors seeking to set up interviews, demonstrations, and booth visits so we get their story and share it with you.

Still, we have looked forward to it each year. There must be something great there to overcome the headaches, crowds, sore feet, and more — right?? Not to mention going back to the room at the end of the day and writing up an article to provide you the latest info.

It’s worth it to us to stay on top of the innovations coming for family caregivers and seniors — and to bring them to you.

Thinking Behind our CES 2019 Plan

After pouring through the schedule and exhibitor list, we have put together our tentative schedule for CES 2019. We call it tentative because something always happens to change plans once we get into it and it always seems we encounter companies and people we decide must be fit into the schedule.

We decided to prioritize exhibits over conference sessions, press events, and even one-on-one meetings this year. All those things are beneficial, but the heart and soul of CES is on the exhibit floor and we have not yet been able to take the time we wanted with the vast array of exhibits.

Our objective is to visit each booth, as we never know what we will find, but have marked some key exhibitors, those with tech we think will be of greatest interest and benefit to family caregivers.

The biggest change from our schedule in prior years is a reduction in the number of conference sessions we are targeting. I say “targeting” because we realize we are unlikely to get into all we would like to see due to space limitations.

In past years we have found the least value in conference sessions that have so many speakers that none get to cover a topic in enough depth to give us much more than soundbites. Once each speakers gets an introduction, there really is not much time left for the moderator’s questions, much less interaction with the audience.

For example, one of our favorite conference tracks in the past has been the Digital Health Summit. This year, however, their schedule includes an 80-minute session with 9 speakers, a 90-minute session with 10 speakers, and a 115-minute session with 15 speakers. Those sessions should be good for some tweets, but we don’t expect the speakers to have time to provide the kind of meaty content we want to give you.

Conference Schedule Highlights

After reading and rereading the conference schedule over the last several weeks, we are particularly targeting these sessions for coverage.

  • Independent Living: Serving Consumers at Home — This session, part of Connections Summit, has a title that explains why it is important to us. Yes, this is another with a full panel of speakers in a short time, but we still expect to get some great insights and maybe catch a couple of the speakers for a few minutes afterward.
  • Creating Tomorrow’s Robotic Caregivers — Both this session and the conference track of which it is part, Service Robotics Arrive in Daily Life, have titles that make clear why they are of great interest to us. We are really looking forward to learning more about the support family caregivers can hope to get from robotic caregivers.
  • Three sessions in what looks to be a great conference track, Disruptive Innovations in Health Care, which is being presented by the Consumer Technology Association and American Heart Association.
    • What’s Hot in Health at CES 2019
    • Digital Therapeutics: Empowering People and Revolutionizing Treatment
    • Telehealth and the Uberization of Health Care
  • Consumer Data: Rewriting the Rules of Engagement for Health — This session, from the Digital Health Summit, will delve into what the health care industry can learn from more consumer-oriented businesses when it comes to being health care providers.

These are not the only conference sessions that interest us, nor do we think we will get into all of them. We will let you know what we learn from those we are able to attend.

Watch for Our CES 2019 Updates

We will be updating you on CES 2019 from the beginning of Media Days through the week and beyond.

We will be posting on Facebook, Twitter, and here at Senior Care Corner to keep you up on the latest.

In the meantime, please let us know if there are specific topics you would like us to investigate and report the results most closely.

Robotic Assistants for Dementia Family Caregivers — Here Now!

There have been many technological innovations that help family caregivers as they care for older adults.

Do we always love — or even use — them when we get them? Nope!

When it comes to older adults, the population is quickly becoming larger than the number of those available to care for them. Many family caregivers can’t stop working, for financial reasons, to become full-time caregivers, have other immediate family needs raising their children, or live at a great distance away all, any of which may prevent them from being full-time caregivers.

What about the number of seniors who have no family members, never had children, or have outlived their family members? What can they do to get their aging needs met?

This is a prime reason that technology to fill the gaps of caregiving is here to stay and will only continue to increase in breath and scope of devices and innovations.

Non-traditional solutions need to be embraced by caregivers and older adults, as well as made useable and practical by tech companies.

Many seniors have been slow to adopt new technology and many caregivers have stalled getting technology in place because they feel overwhelmed and undereducated about what is best for their senior loved one. Both of those must be overcome for caregivers and seniors to get the benefits of technology.

Smart home technology, voice activated assistants, and remote medical monitoring are all at the forefront in technology becoming part of daily life for our seniors.

Are we giving due consideration to robotics and the promise of great things to help manage chronic disease, reduce loneliness and improve the well-being of people living with dementia?

Dementia Decline Impacted by Robot Interaction

A new project has been focused on the effects that robots can have on the decline associated with dementia’s progress.

Advanced Brain Monitoring Inc (ABM) has introduced a robot companion that will interact with a person with dementia to determine if it can mitigate cognitive decline. ABM has received a grant from the National Institute on Aging at the NIH to carry out this study using socially assistive robot interventions. You can read more about it in this article.

Caregivers have been searching for strategies to meet the needs of their older loved ones and keep them mentally stimulated and engaged.

ABM used a socially assistive robot named Mabu from Catalia Health to interact with people with dementia in their own homes. The ABM team states, “We foresee the potential for the robot intervention to be used alone or in combination with other treatments for dementia.”

Mabu will ask questions, get answers, and give reminders as desired. It can be voice activated or directed using a touchscreen tablet. Daily conversations of only a few minutes at a time are individualized to the person and their needs. Although not mobile, the head and eyes move to interact with the person and follows their face to engage.

Change in Chronic Disease Needs Technology Solutions

Seniors today typically suffer from chronic diseases instead of an acute medical diagnosis that ends in their quick demise, as it did in the last century. The struggle then becomes managing chronic disease (and often more than one at a time) for optimal aging and independence that will allow aging in place.

Unfortunately, with the growth in the older population combined with the decline in number of people who can be caregivers to this population of elders, family caregivers will need to depend more on innovative technology to face health and aging challenges.

Success of technology to improve the life of our older adults will require engagement with this technology. That will mean, in a sense, having a relationship with our tech devices and staying engaged over time without abandoning it.

Clearly, if our seniors stop using a device, there is no benefit.

What if there was a technology that was engaging, effective, and acted as a companion that would become meaningful enough to achieve results of engagement that leads to true disease management and medication administration?

Technology such as this could keep a senior connected over a long period of time instead of being discarded. One that becomes almost a buddy.

Cost Versus Benefit of Technology Interventions

Many seniors who have begun needing additional care, but want to remain at home, need a helping hand.

Particularly for those older adults who live alone, a companion robot that interacts on a daily (even more than once a day) basis and is there to confirm they are following their treatment plan is very important to not only their medical status and quality of life, but also for the senior’s mental health to reduce loneliness.

Loneliness, which affects as many as one third of our seniors, has been shown to be a predictor of poor health.

The cost of most of this new technology rivals that of once a week in-home care. While the cost of care will likely rise over time due to supply and demand impacts, the cost of technology typically declines.

UBTECH Lynx (at Amazon)

Cost reductions in avoiding a medical crisis or hospitalization, home safety interventions, proper medication management, reduction in depression and loneliness, and the time given back to family caregivers far outweigh over the long-term other costs of facility or even routine home care.

Digital companions who interact with seniors and the healthcare team can help avoid health crises that lead to hospitalizations. It can also reduce the number of in-home visits needed when chronic diseases are monitored more closely and routinely using digital companions. Non-adherence to the treatment plan is a real barrier to health for many seniors.

Robots on the market and coming to market soon are not intended to take the place of in-home caregivers but to supplement the care they provide based on each senior’s situation.

It is important to note that many of these social robotic companions do not store health data. Any information relayed to a healthcare provider is encrypted, HIPPA compliant and secure.

Technology to Defeat Dementia

Robotics are being used with people with dementia in order to get their attention, engage them with companionship and stimulate them.

There are several of these robots either on the market in specific sectors or available to the consumer including MABU, ElliQ, CareCoach GeriJoy, Buddy, Paro the seal, and Hasbro’s Joy for All pets.

Robotic pets cost in the $100 range and are easily accessible. One of these would be a great gift for many seniors!

The sad truth is the level of frustration and anger family caregivers have when caring for elders in the advanced stages of dementia who ask repetitive questions and need constant redirection at tasks. It is human nature to react when someone asks 15 times in a row what time it is.

Robot companions, however, don’t react with judgment or frustration and are able to maintain a constant tone of voice. This interaction may help avoid conflict which could escalate behaviors in the person with dementia. A robotic companion can relieve a daily caregiver when seniors need constant conversation.

Robotics Doesn’t Replace but Enhance Caregiving

Many caregivers will balk at the thought of machines taking over the caregiving role and replacing the human touch.

This has never been the intention.

Everyone we have seen and heard in the field of robotic research and those implementing digital companions with seniors agree that a human caregiver is essential. Robots are to be used to enhance the experience of aging and augment the capabilities of busy caregivers not replace it.

You are the most important caregiver for your senior loved one, but you need help.

Socially assistive companion robots could help you improve the quality of life for your senior while helping you be able to continue to be a strong caregiver!

 

Covering the Global Stage for Innovation — CES 2019 Preview

Technology innovation for independent-living older adults and their family caregivers has come a long way!

Like the rest of tech, it also has a long way to go before the full potential is realized (if there is ANY limit to the possibilities).

Senior Care Corner® has been covering CES®, the largest and most influential technology event, since our first visit in 2011. At that time, there were a relative few companies, mostly small startups, working on devices for older adults as a founding mission.

We had to use our imaginations to envision the potential benefits for older adults and their family caregivers from innovations designed and marketed for younger people.

Since then, the talk at CES has gone from trying to convince most tech companies seniors will actually use technology to companies big and small touting the benefits of their offerings to seniors.

Of course, in the interim it was ‘discovered’ that the senior market is huge and growing fast. That and older adults demonstrated, with the adoption of smartphones by many, they are willing to consider beneficial innovations.

CES Conference Sessions of Interest

Each year since 2011 there have been more and more conference sessions with information of interest to older adults and their family caregivers. Even though the conference schedule is still a work in progress, we are finding many with great information.

These are just a sampling of the most promising sessions from the schedule so far.

  • Service Robots in Daily Life — The discussion of robotics has gone from industrial robots to those that will interact with us in our daily lives. Sessions will discuss robots that will do household chores, others that will cook for us, and robotic caregivers.
  • Connections Summit — This summit looks at strategies to meet the challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart homes. It will have sessions that discuss voice control of home technologies, in-home tech support, and independent living. We are particularly looking forward to that last session, which will look at smart home solutions that deliver life- and cost-saving health solutions at home.
  • Digital Health Summit — The importance of healthcare to older adults – all of us, really – means the Digital Health Summit is always one of the most important places to be at CES. Highlights this year include eradicating chronic illness, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the technologies that will power the future of healthcare.

Add to these conference tracks on wearable technology, the future of transportation, artificial intelligence, and more, our biggest technology need during CES would be one with which we could clone ourselves to cover everything that is important to you.

CES 2019 Exhibitors

As valuable as we find the conference sessions at CES, the heart and soul of the event is the exhibit floor. Floors, actually, as once again CES exhibits will cover floors in several venues, with enough walking required to get in weeks worth of steps for those who are counting.

In addition to technologies that were only being imagined when we started covering CES, there are also several exhibitor categories that weren’t on the map then.

These are some of the categories that will have tech of greatest interest to seniors and family caregivers, along with the number of exhibitors signed up for each one (many appear in the numbers for multiple categories).

  • Accessibility (69)
  • Digital Health (279)
  • Robotics (189)
  • Smart Home (655)
  • Cyber Security and Privacy (69)
  • Wearables (380)

This sampling should give you a hint that we have a lot of walking ahead of us, once again, during CES. All well worth it, of course, as we always seem to find a few exhibits that are pleasant surprises and look forward to reporting back to you on what we find.

Much More to Come

This is but the first of many articles we will write as part of our coverage of CES 2019. As the event nears, we will provide updates on the program and our plans.

One of the most important aspects of CES each year is the people we meet there, some of whom provide great background information for our articles and others who we interview for our podcasts.

Given how busy everyone is at CES, especially conference speakers, some of our best CES interviews don’t take place there but afterward, when everyone is back home.

Please let us know if there is anything or any company specifically you would like to see us cover and we will work to get it on our schedule.

Stay tuned for more of our coverage of CES 2019.

 

 




Tech for Senior Independence — Conversation with MobileHelp® on Senior Care Corner® Podcast

We have been advocates for technology solutions that support the ability of seniors to successfully age in place since we started Senior Care Corner®.

That includes technology that enables family caregivers to provide the level of care they want while still having time to meet their own needs.

We are not advocating technology for the sake of technology, but because we understand there are many things it can do for seniors in making their lives better, some now but even more in coming years.

Not everyone sees that and many tech companies are newcomers to that vision.

Tech Companies ‘Finding’ the Senior Market

When we saw the needs of seniors being overlooked when we would cover CES® each year, we told tech companies they were making a mistake in assuming older adults wouldn’t buy or use their innovations.

So many times we were told by “experts” and family members of seniors that “older adults won’t use smartphones” and more. Now we are hearing just the opposite, which is reflected in surveys — not to mention observation of older adults everywhere we go.

Now even the largest technology companies are recognizing the potential sales they would be missing by not targeting the senior market. Some are designing products for seniors, but many more are realizing that seniors can and will use the same products they developed with younger consumers in mind.

Many of the products and ideas we have seen and heard will provide real benefits to seniors, but others seem to be solutions in search of problems. Not every innovation is successful, of course.

Click on the ▷ below to play the podcast (note: you can continue reading while you listen if you want)

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Some Tech Companies Never Needed to ‘Find’ the Senior Market

There are a number of technology companies that never had to find the senior market or realize older adults have real needs that tech can help them meet.

We have encountered and reported on several of these, smaller companies typically started out of a desire by their founders to solve a problem they observed while caring for, or just being with, older family members.

Theirs are not solutions in search of problems, but products developed as labors of love to solve a real problem.

One such company is MobileHelp®, a Florida-based company that says it is America’s leading provider of mobile personal emergency response technology.

Rather than tell you what they do, we will let you hear them explain in their own words. Five years ago we interviewed Chris Otto, who was MobileHelp’s VP of Product Development at the time and is now Senior VP of the Healthcare Division. You can hear that interview as part of an earlier podcast (also linked below). Chris provided us a great introduction to the company, their approach, and their innovative products.

Dennis Boyle, MobileHelp President & COO

Since then we have been following MobileHelp, watching as their products and services evolved, including hearing their presentations at CES. When we heard they have an innovative new product for seniors, we reached out to them to learn more.

We are pleased to be able to share with you our recent conversation with Dennis Boyle, MobileHelp’s President and Chief Operating Officer. He caught us up on what they have been doing and introduced us to the MobileHelp Smart, their mobile medical alert system in a smart watch.

We enjoyed speaking with Dennis and appreciate him taking time out of his schedule to educate us — and you — about the MobileHelp Smart.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

  • For more information about the MobileHelp Smart and their other devices, visit the MobileHelp website
  • To get more information about purchasing a MobileHelp device by phone, call 800-800-1710

 

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast and found the conversation with Dennis to be as informative as we did.

 

 

 




 

Convenient Exercise for Family Caregivers While Multitasking in the Living Room

Exercise, get active, and keep moving!

That is what we all hear constantly, especially family caregivers who need to care for themselves.

Most will answer “who has time to ‘get physical’ during the hectic day of caring for a senior loved one, other family members, and a job?”

We all know that experts recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity to help us all stay healthy or manage chronic disease. Caregivers can break this time up into shorter bursts and still gain benefits.

Physical activity that yields health benefits is described as movement by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure. Exercise is a structured type of physical activity that improves or maintains our physical fitness.

Getting to the gym three times a week to exercise seems to be an insurmountable challenge for many family caregivers, so they just give up and give in. Physical fitness and healthy movement aren’t part of many family caregivers’ routine anymore, which can negatively impact the health of caregivers.

Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to get much needed physical activity in the comfort of your own home and at a convenient time for you and your caregiving schedule?

Even better, what if that activity could be accomplished without taking time away from your other activities?

Exercise Solution for Caregivers

Recently we learned about a product that we thought could help bring physical health and activity back into the lives of many family caregivers.

[DISCLOSURE: We were provided a Desk Bike V9 by Flexispot with a request to provide our review of their product. There was no additional compensation. This article reflects our impressions of the Desk Bike in our words, without prior review or approval by Flexispot. The product link below was provided by them.]

Family caregivers are busy — but we don’t have to tell you that!

Caregivers schedule appointments, keep up with finances and insurance information, keep extended family members informed about what is going on with senior loved ones, use social media to support their journey, manage remote apps from connected devices, and often work either away from or in the home.

Being able to combine these tasks with getting much needed physical exercise would seem to be a no-brainer for many family caregivers. No longer would we have to put our physical health on the back burner due to time.

But is that possible?

Can you be active while you do normally sedentary things like supervise your senior loved one, watch TV together or answer your emails?

The answer is yes and that is exactly what we found!

How about a stationery bicycle with a workspace for a computer, beverage, snacks, book, or craft project? A Flexispot Desk Bike V9 combines the benefits of a stationary bike with a standing desk and is designed with ample room to get things done.

Work meets workout. Multitasking has never been this easy. Balance work and wellness, anytime and anywhere” according to its creators.

Intriguing! So much so it was honored at the 2018 CES with an Innovation Award.

We were truly intrigued when offered the chance to try one out and also asked a few seniors to give it a whirl too to see what they thought about it and if they would use it.

Our Evaluation of the Flexispot Desk Bike V9

We found the Desk Bike V9 to be easy and enjoyable to use right away but wanted to see if that was due to its novelty and went away with time. After weeks in our living room, it has not! There is every indication it has a permanent place there.

Our evaluation and observations below are based on our use of the Desk Bike V9 as well as that by other

Highlights of the Desk Bike V9

There were many positive attributes of the Flexispot, based on our observations and feedback from testers.

  • Riders found that the desk height was very comfortable, even for a short person. It was easy to adjust between riders of different sizes, too.
  • If you want to use the desk without riding, it is also easy to use from a standing position without having to readjust everything. This made it easy to keep a laptop on the desk and use it for quick tasks without moving it around or having to ride the bike.
  • One of the most important considerations for many people who use a stationary bicycle is the feeling of the seat. Can you sit for extended periods of time without becoming sore? Our riders found the seat to be comfortable for long periods of time, such as during the time it took to watch a movie. They advertise the most comfortable seat on the market and we found no reason to dispute that.
  • The bike was easy to assemble and easy to move around in the home as needed on the wheels provided. Even though it was on wheels, it never felt as though it was going to move, either while riding or while getting on and off.
  • Our bike was placed in the family room in order to be able to watch the TV while biking and working. If visitors came over, it would be easy to quickly move out of the room or just out of the way.
  • It will definitely help get 10,000 steps a day. A daily reset of the instrument panel made it straightforward to know how much I have done. We could ride 10 to 20 minutes at a time and by the end of the day it truly adds up.
  • The more you use it, the higher the resistance you can achieve to maximize your tracking daily goals for miles, time, or even a calorie burn simple to achieve.
  • The resistance feature goes from 0 to 8. The more resistance you use, the more calories you burn and muscle you build to achieve your goals. The knob control moved easily between skill level of different riders.

This bike gives you many useful features such as:

  1. Desktop that holds laptop, cup, TV remote and smartphone all at one time (PHOTO)
  2. Resistance control from 0 to 8 giving you the option of increasing workout potential
  3. Adjustable desk height that slides forward and backward easily
  4. Adjustable seat
  5. Comfortable seat
  6. Exercise time tracking
  7. Speed you exercised
  8. Distance traveled per session
  9. Calories burned each session
  10. Cup holder
  11. Pedal covers for barefoot riding

Riders found that they could get the physical benefits of exercise while using the Flexispot as any other stationery bike, that is increased heart rate and muscle strengthening over time. The longer they rode, steadily increasing resistance and time spent each session yielded notable physical benefits. They also spent time with senior loved ones and other family members as well as completing tasks on the desktop.

The bike while in motion was quiet and did not disturb others in the room watching TV or doing other activities in the family room alongside the bike rider.

Concerns Noted in Using the Desk Bike V9

While it had many more positives than negatives according to our riders, there were a few things to note.

  • It is important to get all the benefits the bike can provide by paying attention to both whatever is being done on the desktop or the TV and the functioning of the bike as you pedal. Riders sometimes forgot and stopped pedaling. It seems when doing something mindless like watching TV, it was not as difficult to remember to keep the pedaling pace up. However, when a rider’s attention was riveted on the computer or other task, it was more difficult to lose track of their feet! That really isn’t a function of the bike as much as it is the rider.
  • While assembly was straighforward and quick, the bike itself was very heavy and will require at least two people to get it out of the box and put together, simply due to its weight. Once assembled, the wheels allow it to be rolled wherever it needs to go easily by one person. Negotiating stairs with it would be another thing altogether.
  • You must be careful to adjust the desk to a level that allows you to maintain good posture, which may mean readjusting each time there is a change of rider. Before we learned this, some riders were slouching over the desk which could, over time, result in back soreness and a quicker fatigue factor. Proper positioning of the desk and seat height is important for each individual rider.
  • Like any physical activity, riding this bike and getting the greatest benefit will require you to build your stamina. Doing exercise time in short amounts building up the total time spent and gradually increasing the resistance will allow the rider to gain momentum without stressing joints and muscles.
  • While riders of all ages found the bike comfortable once appropriate seat and desk adjustments were made, shorter riders may find it beneficial to use a step up to the seat when mounting the bike.

Recommendation

We like the Flexispot Desk Bike V9 and recommend family caregivers consider it for their own homes and the homes of senior loved ones for whom they care.

Family caregivers who find their own health being shortchanged with all the demands on their time may find real benefit in the ability it gives them to combine work or entertainment with exercise from the comfort of their own living room!

We recommend the bike because caring for yourself and staying healthy should be a priority for family caregivers.

As with any physical activity, always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an individual exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with physical activity, stop and consult your healthcare provider.

Happy exercise/work/entertainment multitasking!