CES 2016 – What We Hope to Learn at the Global Stage for Innovation

A new year is just down the road and with it expectations of another bigger and better CES®, the annual showcase for innovators in technology fields and their innovations.

The trend in recent years at CES has been toward technologies — hardware, processes, applications, content, and more — designed to making our lives better.

We’re hoping for even more this time.

CES 2016® has us even more optimistic than ever we’ll see, hear and learn about products and services that will make the lives of seniors healthier, safer, and happier. Of course, that means we’re expecting our busiest CES week yet, even before we sit down to communicate it all to the family caregivers who are so deeply invested in the lives of their senior loved ones.

Not only will technology make seniors’ lives better but also those of family caregivers, whose efforts are made more effective and loads lightened by tech innovation.

Tech Industry Better Targeting Needs of Seniors

The tech industries have been teasing us for several years now, putting innovations on exhibit targeting the needs of seniors and talking about even more in the pipeline. Last year, though, we saw signs of breakthroughs in their thinking.

The light seems to have been switched on in many that “seniors” are not a single homogeneous market segment, but people with a range of ages, interests, needs and purchasing ability.

Make that a large, rapidly growing number of people.

Technology innovators and marketers also seem to be realizing family caregivers are recommenders and even purchasers of tech products and services for their senior loved ones.

What’s changed? Sure, listening and observing the marketplace is part of it, but we think there’s more. While the innovators were long seen as too young to identify with the needs of older adults, many are now seeing those needs in their parents and grandparents.

Growing numbers in tech are now family caregivers of senior loved ones and seeing the needs firsthand. That’s not new, though, as many products and services Senior Care Corner® has encountered over time have been the result of needs identified and met by family caregivers.

A CES for Seniors and Family Caregivers

Yes, we’ve been hearing good things to share with family caregivers in the last few year, but are now looking for more specifics to make this a CES for seniors and their family caregivers.

For us to feel there is real advancement in meeting the needs of older adults and the family members caring for them, we would like to see one or more of these at CES 2016:

  1. Solutions targeting the needs of the growing population of seniors who require memory care and whose family caregivers are working to enable them to live at home as long as possible;
  2. Suites of technology solutions packaged with the needs of aging in place seniors in mind;
  3. Plans and even demonstrated progress toward the linking of seniors and their healthcare providers electronically, enabling them to receives care from their own doctors at home;
  4. Packages of home healthcare digital devices and applications for aging in place seniors; and,
  5. Advances in automotive safety technology to make it safer for those seniors who wish to drive longer to do so.

Each of these items is explained and discussed further below.

Sure, there are other things we hope to see and hear at CES, but these are within reach of the technology industries based on what has been done already.

Memory Care Technology Solutions

Alzheimer’s and other dementias are already impacting many older adults and the numbers are expected to only grow with the aging of our population. Providing care for these seniors is one of the great challenges we face as family caregivers and society in general.

A growing majority of seniors express a desire to live at home rather than in a senior living facility and family caregivers strive to make that possible.

The need of senior loved ones for memory care adds to the challenge these family caregivers face, but does not diminish their desire to honor the wishes of their aging loved ones.

This situation is tailor made for technology solutions, including market size that should be large enough to profitably target this need while being able to keep prices reasonable for already-stretched family caregivers (at least until third party reimbursement is a reality).

Aging in Place Technology Suites

We have been impressed the last couple of years with the array of smarthome technologies on display at CES and available in stores. At the same time, there is so much it can be overwhelming, even to those who consider themselves to be tech-savvy, and difficult to sort through to identify solutions to specific needs.

There is a real opportunity for firms or alliances of firms to make themselves appealing to seniors and family caregivers by packaging suites of solutions that meet specific needs of those independently aging in place.

Compatibility among the myriad of smarthome tech products has long been an issue, one that solutions from alliances like Zigbee and Z-Wave, as well as Apple’s HomeKit, attempt to address. What is needed goes beyond saying “these products work together” though.

Many family caregivers who want to equip the homes of senior loved ones with the technology they need desire do-it-yourself solutions or are forced there by economics. It would be great to see a list of solutions to meet specific aging in place problems along with directions to make the solutions reality — not just today but over time as maintenance is needed and expansion is desired to meet changing needs of aging loved ones.

Home Healthcare from Seniors’ Own Providers

For some time now we have been hearing promises and seeing demonstrations of technology and systems that are touted as enabling seniors (and all of us) to interact with and receive care from their healthcare providers without having to go to their offices. This will enable many seniors to live independently longer and in better health than is possible today.

Of course, this has to be offered by their providers for our senior loved ones to achieve the benefits.

Positive change in the healthcare industry typically happens at an agonizingly slow pace, but most people have seen no signs this is a change in works. Sure, there are a number of factors in this including security, privacy and billing concerns, but just too many benefits for quality and cost of service for our senior loved ones to let it go without pressing for implementation.

It will likely take the combined efforts of tech companies, healthcare provider groups and third party reimbursement providers to make remote care in the home a reality. Hopefully we will soon see innovations that will bring these groups together.

In the meantime, it would be great to see a plan from the tech side to make that happen.

Home Healthcare Digital Device & App Packages

Sure, another healthcare “hope” but then access to healthcare is important to seniors and the more care they can receive in the home, the longer they can independently age in place. That makes this another priority of family caregivers as well.

We saw many digital home health devices at CES 2015, which make us optimistic we’re seeking something achievable for the upcoming CES.

While there were many digital devices and accompanying applications already, we saw few packages that offered each of the devices a senior or family caregiver may want and most we did see were available only outside the U.S.

Why is a full-range package important? Just as with smarthome devices — even more so here — the ability to utilize compatible devices with a common mobile app interface makes it easier to use home health technology and more likely it will be used by our senior loved ones.

Hopefully we can mark this one “done” at CES 2016!

Automotive Safety Technology

Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles will be huge for our senior loved ones, enabling them to maintain independence without having to worry about getting behind the wheel or rely on someone else to take them where they need to go.

But self-driving vehicles are years away from being an option for us.

In the meantime, there is much the automotive industry can do and in many cases is doing to make driving safer for drivers of all ages, especially those whose reflexes, anticipation or depth perception might have lost a bit over time.

This is another area where we have seen significant advancements in the last couple of years and hope to see even more, not just on the CES exhibit floor but in vehicles we can purchase at local dealers.

CES 2016 Updates from Senior Care Corner

Rely on Senior Care Corner® for CES® 2016 coverage of the topics relevant to family caregivers and the seniors whose lives caregivers are working to make healthier, safer and happier.

Our coverage starts now, with reporting of the lead-up to CES and on the scene — and behind the scenes — coverage for family caregivers, by family caregivers. We’ll strip away the marketing hype to inform you about what we see, hear and learn about the innovations and announcements.

Visit us regularly at SeniorCareCorner.com for our coverage. To ensure you don’t miss anything, like our Facebook page or, even better, follow @SrCareCorner and me, @BarryBirkett, on Twitter.

We’ll let you know if CES lives up to or — hopefully — exceeds our hopes and point you in the direction of valuable technology solutions.

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