Tech Talk for Seniors, Family Caregivers & Others Not “Born Digital”

Sometimes even the English language can seem like someone is speaking in a foreign tongue.

Older adults, who lived much of their lives without today’s technology, can feel that tech speak is unintelligible and the whole world is trying to tell them something they don’t understand.

It can be like talking about a new medical condition or the effects of medication with a doctor when they use terms we never heard before.

It would be so nice to learn the words to describe a variety of technology solutions that could benefit them or simply make their life a little easier.

Helping seniors (and their family caregivers) learn at the least the most frequently used tech terminology could be very helpful in getting them comfortable using technology and gaining the benefits it can bring to their lives.

Defining Tech Speak

Here are some of the more common words used by those familiar with technology that many seniors — and family caregivers — may not yet have mastered.

Android – mobile operating system developed by Google and used in almost all non-Apple smartphones and tablet devices.

Apps – app is an abbreviation for the word application, it usually refers to a software program that performs a specific function. The term app refers to mobile devices and a user must download them to use. They open up in the operating system. Examples of apps include mobile banking, games, maps, GPS, business links, health links, etc.

Artificial Intelligence or AI — intelligence demonstrated by a machine that is normally associated with humans, such as the ability to observe a situation and make a decision regarding how to proceed based on the information observed.

Blockchain — a list of records, linked using secure code, that grows with each new record added, with none being deleted. Each record is accessible only to those who have the appropriate key code. A blockchain allows secure records, such as medical records, banking information, contracts, and more to be securely maintained without the need of entities in the middle of the transaction, giving parties much greater security potential than is achieved with current systems.

Bluetooth – short (such as within a room or home) distance wireless interconnection between mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Data is sent over radio waves instead of through wires/cords. Devices that are able to connect have a Bluetooth chip in them.

Broadband Connection — often called just ‘broadband,’ refers to a high speed connection to the internet, whether using DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), Cable modem, or high speed cellular connection.

Data – pieces of information, such as names, phone numbers, medical device readings, whether a light switch is on or off, and much MUCH more.

Download – receiving information or data from one computer or electronic device into the memory of another usually over the internet.

Flash drive – a small portable device for the purpose of storing files or data and can transfer that data to another device as well as be used to back up data. This data storage device is also known as thumb drive, flash stick, memory stick, jump drive, or USB memory.

HDMI cable – a cable that transmits high definition digital audio/visual (compressed or uncompressed) from a source device to another compatible device. For example, connects a computer to a projector to present a video.

HTML – fundamental language used to create webpages; stands for hypertext markup language.

Hub – center of a network. For technology, a hub can be the center of a specific network, such as smart home devices, or the center of USB system that connects peripheral devices. A network hub allows multiple devices the ability to communicate with each other. A USB hub allows multiple devices to be connected to or interface with one computer.

iOS – an operating system for mobile devices manufactured and used by Apple devices such as iPads and iPhones.

IoT – Internet of Things; refers to a system of interrelated electronic and mechanical devices that are connected so that no human contact is required for operation (human to human or human to computer). They connect wirelessly using a hub as point of connectivity. They transmit data amongst devices.

Link – it is an HTML object that allows users to jump to a different web location by clicking it. Links are often attached to images, words, or titles. They can be displayed using blue letters or underlined but this is no longer the default. Term is short for hyperlink.

Operating system – a system that allows software to communicate with hardware in computing to allow programs to run. Examples include Microsoft Windows, iOS, and Android.

Phishing — scam that uses email to fraudulently obtain personal data such as credit card numbers, passwords, and social security numbers by tricking recipients into thinking they are opening and responding to an email from a known or reputable source.

Platforms – refers to a computers operating system or group of technologies that are used as a base for applications; examples for personal computing are Windows, MacIntosh and tell on which kind of computer system a particular software will work. Social media sites are often described as platforms as well (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

Remote access – the ability to use a computer or electronic device from a separate or remote location as well as the ability to control the device or app once the connection is made.

Streaming – transmitting or receiving data over a computer network in such a way that you can begin viewing the data before it is fully transmitted, such as when watching a video.

Strong password – passwords that are harder to hack, which will contain a variety of characters such as lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols and are at least 8 characters long (typically longer).

Sync – abbreviation for synchronize; connecting data between devices such as computer and smartphones, typically via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular connections.

Upload – the opposite of downloading, sending data from one electronic device to another. You will upload emails and photos when you send.

USB — Universal Serial Bus, short distance digital communication; USB ports allow connectivity between devices and transfer data over cables.

Wearables – electronic technology device that can be worn, such as exercise trackers, or can be imbedded in clothing or as tattoos directly on the skin. Powered by microprocessors, they are hands-free and can send or receive data via the internet.

Wireless – transmit data without cables or wires using radio waves. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both networks that allow data to transmit without wires. A wireless card or router/modem is used for Wi-Fi and a chip is generally used to enable Bluetooth.

5G — refers to the fifth (next) generation of mobile internet connectivity, which will provide much faster connections and enable much higher volumes of data to be communicated.

Building Comfort with Tech

Seniors may be more comfortable engaging with technology when they are relieved of feeling embarrassed due to a lack of knowledge or understanding of tech and its terminology.

Simply learning some of the technology industry’s language may empower them to get more involved with tech that is beneficial to them and their ability to live independently.

Geek speak shouldn’t be keeping them from using technology.

Keep in mind the objective is building comfort, not making anyone experts in the field.

Learning a few new words shouldn’t be a barrier and it might be fun especially if a tech-savvy or tech geek grandchild is the teacher!

This is a great way for multi-generational interaction to happen that will benefit everyone.

 

 




Survey Closer Look — Insights on Tech from Seniors Who Are Caregivers

As we often hear and read, the senior (65+) population is growing rapidly, more so than any other age group.

What you may not realize is that the number of senior family caregivers is also rising rapidly.

One in five adult caregivers, or more than 8 million in all, are seniors, according to the 2015 report Caregiving in the US from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

Yet we seldom — if ever — see any research that considers the needs of older caregivers.

Even a recent report from the Consumer Technology Association, which we feel has been making real strides in consideration of older adults in their research, capped the age on the “caregivers” segment of their study at 64.

Given all of this, it was particularly gratifying to us that half of the responses to our recent technology survey were from seniors who consider themselves to be caregivers.

We feel the insights from and needs of these senior caregivers are important enough to merit a closer look on their own.

What the Survey Is — and Isn’t

This survey was conducted to provide us insight into our readership for purposes of planning our future technology coverage. As such, we make no claims that it is a statistically valid sampling of family caregivers — or even of those who visit Senior Care Corner®.

It is, though, an indication of the opinions of those in our audience who were kind enough to take the time to tell us what they think.

That is important to us and very much appreciated.

We also understand and will take into account that those who responded to the survey — and those who visit Senior Care Corner overall — are already, at a minimum, using the technology needed to connect to the web and may be more attuned to tech than other older adults and family caregivers.

Now that we have an understanding, onto the results of the survey.

The following survey results reflect those respondents who were 65+ and identified as family caregivers.

Question 3: Respondents Level of Tech Use

We were somewhat surprised to see just over half of the senior caregivers consider themselves to be avid users of digital technology, slightly more than the younger survey respondents.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, since tech users may have been more likely to respond to our online survey, but it is inconsistent with the widely held perception seniors and tech are not a good mix.

Then again, we have been saying for a while that perception is wrong.

Question 4: Respondents Role with Technology

As the chart below reflects, the senior caregiver survey respondents reflect a broad range of experience and roles with technology in their homes.

Just about half of those responding indicated they are the primary purchasers and implementers of technology in their own homes, as well as the troubleshooters, with a fair number indicating they have the same role in the homes of others.

The flip side is that about half of the respondents rely on someone else to take the lead on technology in their homes.

These responses tell us we have to keep in mind the full range of roles in our technology reporting.

Question 5: Areas of Concern with Technology

With 2 of 5 senior caregivers listing it, in line with respondents overall, data privacy is clearly the greatest technology concern. There is good reason for that, of course, but security concerns do not seem to have deterred them from using tech.

Interestingly, these caregivers are a third less likely to say technology costs too much than are younger respondents. They are also less than half as likely to feel tech is too complicated.

Given their responses, including the 1 in 4 who have no concerns, senior caregivers should be on the radar of tech companies.

This is not to ignore the data privacy issue, which we all share. We plan to respond to the survey feedback by providing more information on safe and secure use of digital technology.

Question 6: Respondents’ Technology Interest Areas

While senior caregivers expressed interest in learning more about the full range of technologies in the survey, their interests were clearly focused in the areas of smartphones and tablets, home health devices, and home security. These are the areas that are currently the most developed of the tech areas and provide readily-identifiable benefits to both senior caregivers and those for whom they care.

Given that senior caregivers express receptivity to using tech overall, it may be they will need only to see a demonstration of the benefits of other technologies for their interest to rise. We will continue reporting on these areas to give them a chance to decide for themselves.

Question 7: Respondents’ Learning Preferences

This question was very important to us in planning our future delivery of information on Senior Care Corner, as we want to present information in a way that is preferred by our audience and therefore most beneficial to them.

Senior caregivers expressed clear preferences for information communicated in written articles and video. According to these responses, our podcast was not the best way to reach this older group.

The senior caregivers’ preference for articles and videos is consistent with what younger respondents told us, while the seniors’ interest in podcasts and webinars was much lower.

What We Learned from Senior Caregivers

While we are keeping in mind the survey is not scientific, we can’t help but be excited about the responses from the senior caregivers.

Clearly there are many in this group who are both users of technology and interested in learning more. We plan on continuing to feed their interest with our tech coverage with practical insights that will provide benefits for both them and those for whom they care.

Also in mind is the reality there are likely other senior caregivers who did not respond and whose need to see technology’s benefits may be even greater. Hopefully we will get their feedback over time.

We hope the positive response to technology of senior caregivers is also being noticed by the tech companies, which will hopefully be further motivated to develop solutions to the problems of this group and demonstrate the benefits of those solutions.

Senior Care Corner looks forward to learning about those solutions and keeping you up to date!

Survey Results — Family Caregivers Provide Technology Insights

The results of our technology survey are complete.

That 474 of you who took the time to let us know what you think is truly appreciated!

We are going to spend some time digging into your responses in order to figure out just what we can learn and apply to the future of technology reporting at Senior Care Corner®.

In future articles we will discuss some of the detailed insights from the survey responses and how we’ll apply them. In the meantime, we want to present a summary of responses to each of our questions.

But first a little background discussion . . .

What the Survey Is — and Isn’t

Senior Care Corner has put a focus on technology for seniors and their family caregivers from the beginning. Of course, several years ago there was not nearly as much to cover as there is today.

As we have been reporting for some time, especially after covering CES® 2019, there is a great deal of technology in place and in the pipeline that can and will benefit older adults and their caregivers.

With so much technology available today and more on the way, we know we can’t fully cover all of it in the depth family caregivers need. The survey is our attempt to learn where we should focus our coverage to best meet your needs. We will let you know the specifics of what we learned.

We realize this survey is not a statistically valid sampling of family caregivers or even of those who visit Senior Care Corner. It is, though, an indication of the opinions of those in our audience who were kind enough to take the time to tell us what you think. That is important to us.

We also understand and will take into account that those who responded to the survey — and those who visit Senior Care Corner overall — are already, at a minimum, using the technology needed to connect to the web and may be more attuned to technology than other older adults and family caregivers.

Now onto the results of the survey.

Question 1: Age of Survey Respondents

Responses to the first survey question are consistent with our understanding of the Senior Care Corner audience based on comments and communications we’ve received over time.

While we are pleased to receive the confirmation, we were hoping to get more feedback from those who are younger in order to understand their needs as well. After all, there are already many younger family caregivers, many of whom may not see themselves as such, and a lot more who will at some point find themselves in that role, supporting parents, grandparents, and other loved ones.

 

Question 2: Caregiving Role of Respondents

This question is part of our effort to better understand the caregiving role, and thus the needs, of our audience. As expected, a large majority of respondents are caregivers to older adults.

Not lost on us are the responses of those who have older family members but don’t consider themselves caregivers. As we know and frequently discuss, those respondents might still be family caregivers without realizing they fill that role for a loved one. They may also have a role in the selection and implementation of technology solutions for senior loved ones.

We also appreciate that we have readers who are receiving care themselves and keep their needs in mind.

 

Question 3: Respondents Level of Tech Use

We weren’t sure what to expect in response to this question and were a little surprised that half of respondents said they are avid users of technology devices. Maybe we should not have been, since tech users may have been more likely to respond, though a significant share are already seniors.

This is consistent with research we have seen from others and our own anecdotal evidence indicating technology use by older adults is growing.

 

Question 4: Respondents Role with Technology

As the chart below reflects, respondents to the survey reflect a broad range of experience and roles with technology in their homes.

We find it interesting that half of the respondents to the survey have very significant roles with technology while a significant number are tech users but rely on others to set up and maintain it. We will continue to strive to meet the needs of both with our reporting.

 

Question 5: Areas of Concern with Technology

We find it interesting that, while respondents report a broad range of concerns with digital technology in their homes, one in four reported having no concerns.

Not surprisingly, the most commonly reported concern was data privacy, which has gotten a lot of discussion over the last year, with significant coverage of what companies such as Facebook and Google do with what they learn about us from our internet activities.

We hope tech companies take note that one in three respondents share concern about the cost of technology.

 

Question 6: Respondents Technology Interest Areas

We were pleased to learn respondents have interest in a broad range of technologies, though that will continue to challenge us in our coverage.

It is not surprising to see the greatest interest in the areas of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) and home health devices, as we expect those to be areas providing the greatest benefit to independent-living seniors.

While there is clearly less interest right now in caregiving robots and digital companions, we will likely continue to follow those technology areas, which are still relatively immature and their benefits not yet well developed or publicized. We believe these technologies will take some of the load off family caregivers while improving life for seniors.

 

Question 7: Respondents Learning Preferences

This question was very important to us in planning our future delivery of information on Senior Care Corner.

It does not surprise us that almost two-thirds of our readers prefer their information via written articles and will continue to provide those.

Because half of respondents stated a preference for video delivery of information, we will be moving more in that direction in the future.

We have been evaluating the future of our podcast, so the interest expressed in podcasts by just one in five respondents is valuable to us in that evaluation.

 

Other Feedback We Received

It means a lot to us that 474 of you took the time to respond to our survey. That number is as meaningful to us as any of the survey responses themselves.

Still, not all of the valuable feedback we received was in the form of survey responses.

We received a number of comments, both directly and through social media, indicating there are some who do not see technology as being related to caring for seniors.

While we clearly disagree, we appreciate those comments, as they let us know there is still a need for basic communication of the roles technology can play in the lives of both seniors and their family caregivers.

It is comments such as those that help keep us grounded. We are, after all, not advocates of technology per se, but advocates for the family caregivers of senior loved ones. To the extent technology can help family caregivers make the lives of loved ones safer, healthier, and/or happier, we want to report on that technology.

It is for that reporting we conducted our technology survey and will learn from what you told us to improve our reporting for YOU, the family caregivers.

Aging in Place Technology Roundup 2019 — Background for Family Caregivers

We believe technology advances are the most important innovations for our future lives and continue to provide information on tech so family caregivers are in the best position to help senior loved ones utilize that tech for healthier, safer, and happier lives.

We have been telling you a lot about what we saw and heard at CES® 2019 on current innovations and those in the pipeline. Today, though, we want to step back and provide some background.

We also want to ask you to help us help you with our technology coverage and hope you’ll take our two-minute survey to help shape our directions with regard to tech and innovation overall.

For family caregivers and older adults, the goal now for technology is to improve the aging experience. It isn’t enough to make a call on a cell phone or play cards on the computer.

How will technology improve quality of life, independence and safety for our senior loved ones?

That is the measuring stick family caregivers are now using when considering adding technology to their senior’s life.

We have come a long way with what is possible and available that can fill gaps and help caregivers meet the needs of their loved ones but there is still more coming that many will find priceless.

Here are some of the latest trends we found that might help family caregivers and older adults learn more about what is possible for them to live their best lives.

Trends and Updates in Technology Useful for Seniors

Innovations in technology are coming at a fast and furious pace. That means family caregivers can find it difficult to keep on top of what devices and gadgets can help them.

It is up to you and your family to decide what problem needs a solution, how to pay for it (some LTC policies may help with the cost) and how best to put it into daily practice. But all that will be worth it with some of these tech solutions.

Here are some you may or may not have heard about yet.

Robotics

Caregivers know companionship and fighting loneliness can be a constant battle. You can’t be there 24/7 to interact or entertain seniors. Robotics may help provide company at the same time they fill a need such as safety or connectivity to you and the rest of their friends and family.

One such companion robot that is coming is called MiRo. It is a social robot, hybrid animal shaped companion robot which operates as a reactive pet. It has 3D eyesight, is both light and touch sensitive, has echo location, stereo hearing packaged in a distinct personality. It will interact easily with your senior. The MiRo Project is from Consequential Robotics.

We thought this short video would provide some valuable insight.

Other companion robots are also available, such as Hector who works with smart home technology to facilitate aging in place independence for seniors.

There are telepresence devices that act as iPhones or tablets on a moving figure such as Buddy, Lynx, PAL, Ohmni Labs or Beam to name just a few of the robots that are out there right now.

Game Playing

How many times have you seen an older adult sitting with their tablet in their lap playing a game? Maybe solitaire, crosswords, puzzles, or Tetris? Perhaps some of the newer games that their grandchildren have downloaded for them like World of Warcraft are their new favorites. How about words with friends playing against and with family members and friends to see who can get the word faster?

We often hear people say playing games is a real time waster and drain on productive time which is often true.

However, research from Simon Fraser University in the Connect Play project shows that digital games bring health benefits to our senior loved ones. Sounds like it is time to play! Study participants played online Scrabble, mahjong, chess, and solitaire.

Apparently needing to play with strategy can improve cognition. Games like Angry Bird can improve their functional status and reaction time in addition to cognition.

Social engagement and cognitive stimulation are improved with gaming. Researchers point out that it is important to not only slow down mental decline with age but also improve social connectedness.

They found that playing games using technology can fight loneliness, isolation and depression that often accompany aging in place older adults even while playing alone since only 30% report playing with others.

Researcher Andrew Sixsmith, who is Professor of Gerontology and Scientific Director of Age-Well, states that devices and games need to be easier to use and more accessible to people.

Laundry List of Current and Future Tech Solutions

  1. Transportation needs met with ride sharing even when seniors don’t or won’t use an app. GoGoGrandparent.com is a service to call a ride using any phone – no smartphone or app needed.
  2. Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) has been around for many years but now it are more user friendly and the devices are attractive. Many are invisible to others, as they look like jewelry which reduces their stigma so that seniors will actually use them. Broadband connectivity has also allowed these devices to be used out in the community not just at home which is a great benefit!
  3. Internet of Things, where an ever-increasing variety of devices are connected and work together to make function in a way to make a home’s residents healthier, safer, and more comfortable, as well as communicate with caregivers remotely. Now the devices talk to each other better too!
  4. Apple Watch, which can track health (even taking an EKG), monitor falls, send emails, and make calls!
  5. Voice controlled devices — a growing multitude of devices can be controlled by voice with Alexa or Google — can help seniors get information, music, control home devices, and get emergency help without needing to push buttons.
  6. Medication reminders and pill dispensers help ensure medicine is taken in the proper amounts at the doctor-directed times.
  7. AbleData is a site maintained for the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to help learn more about specific products; “database for unbiased, comprehensive information on products, solutions and resources to improve productivity and ease life’s tasks.”
  8. Pathway lighting with remote or motion activated light sensors adds safety around the home.
  9. Dragon voice activated device control program to help type or fill out forms or do email online. Can use with iPhone, iPad or iPod touch for text messages, emails or note files. There is also a version to help control the home PC.
  10. Siri or other voice activated assistants on smartphones or tablets can help with starting apps and getting things done without needing hands-on control.
  11. Technology enhanced rehabilitation programs to improve hand=eye coordination.
  12. Vital sign monitoring devices, such as smart scales, glucose sensors, blood pressure monitor, etc., that link to healthcare professionals and caregivers.
  13. iPad loaded to give medication reminders by audio or face to face check ins with providers.
  14. Home sensors that pattern behavior and monitor connected devices, like medication boxes reporting abnormal activity to caregiver remotely.
  15. Smart clothing that monitors health and sends alerts to caregivers if any changes occur.
  16. Virtual pets, such as GeriJoy and Joy For All pets, in a tablet or robotic form that provide companionship and socialization.
  17. Autonomous vehicles, which will one day help seniors and others get where they need to go without having to drive or rely on others.

Creating Senior Technology They Need and Want

Seniors are the fastest growing group of new computer users right now, as it did take them a bit longer to adopt technology compared to younger adults. But boy are they catching up fast!

One survey found that 71% of caregivers are interested in technology to support their caregiving tasks but only 7% are currently using available technology.

Most caregivers responded that they don’t know what is best for them because there are many options. Increasing knowledge and awareness of the products on the market and how it can improve caregiving.

They might use individual solutions but really want a platform to encompass more devices. They also want peace of mind, they want to be able to check in to see if seniors are safe and don’t yet trust that the current devices are worth the expense.

But have we asked the senior what they want in order to make the effort to use technology?

The Aging 2.0 tech conference entitled “Seniors Shaping Technology: Your Opinion Matters” was a giant leap forward for those in the field of aging who promote connectivity and the latest tech innovations for older adults.

The time has finally come when seniors can have a voice in influencing tech devices and what will actually come to market to fill a need for older adults. In an expo format, each product was reviewed by the seniors for usability, desirability or not interested.

Do they have enough knowledge to even know if they would benefit before they reviewed each item? That is a question that will be answered in the future as more seniors adopt technology and give feedback on their experiences.

There is no question that technology is here to stay and it can help family caregivers improve the quality of life of their senior loved ones. Now is the time to learn more about what is available and how it can help your family.

We will continue to bring you more information and keep on top of the trends in technology helpful for seniors and family caregivers.

Before you go, we really hope you’ll take a couple minutes to complete our survey and help tailor our future technology coverage here at Senior Care Corner®. Thank you for helping us help you!

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 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.

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.

 

 




Holiday Online Shopping Safety — Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Black Friday, the once biggest shopping day in our history which falls on the day after Thanksgiving has been outpaced by Cyber Monday.

Buying online on the Monday after Thanksgiving has become the largest shopping day and it all happens with the use of technology. For some it means shopping on the computer while others will use their smartphones. As a matter of fact, 80% of adults will buy something online with 30% occurring on our mobile devices!

No matter which way you (or your senior loved one) choose to shop for the best holiday deals you can find, security when you are surfing the net should be a number one priority.

What We Do and Buy Online

Many people not only compare products looking for the best prices and features, but also read reviews before buying and even look online standing in the store to see if there is a better deal elsewhere.

This means that we are engaging online for a fair amount of time visiting many different shopping sites and apps which could set us up for security breaches.

According to a Pew Research study, not only are we using technology to buy things, we are buying more technology online too!

We are buying gaming systems, tablets, phones, laptops, appliances, cameras, and the latest Internet of Things (IoT) devices for our increasingly smarter homes online through our technology.

Protecting Online Buying

The experts remind us as we approach the holiday buying season that everything we own or buy that is connected to the internet is at risk for cyber threats, scams, and identity theft.

Older adults who are new to technology or trying a new device should be encouraged by caregivers to learn about cyber hygiene to help protect themselves from people who want to steal something from them not just when they shop but all the time.

While it is important to learn about security, however, it’s important not to throw gasoline on the fire of any existing conceptions of online safety — or lack of it.

Hackers and criminals go on the prowl during the holidays so we should all be on our guard as we shop this season.

Here are some tips from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to keep you and your senior safer online this holiday and all year long:

  1. Before you shop, be sure your connected device is free of malware by running a scan and updating your apps.
  2. Before you buy, update your passwords and logins to be sure they have double authentication and the strongest passwords you can make.
  3. Learn about the website before you buy. Check out other people’s experiences with reviews to be sure you will not be disappointed or scammed with a purchase.
  4. Avoid links in your social media platforms as cyber criminals can steal your information and infect your devices when you click these links.
  5. Don’t give vendors more information than they need for the transaction. Don’t give more info than the fields they request including passwords, Social Security numbers and other secure information.
  6. Don’t use free WiFi hotspots to buy products as your passwords and information is not secure there. Logging in and using passwords can be exposed. Limit access to your own device whenever using these hotspots.
  7. Don’t fall for online deals that look too good be true — because they probably aren’t. Often you won’t get the product or it will not be what you thought you were getting when you buy from a ‘dealer’ instead of a reputable online retailer.
  8. Be alert to phishing emails that warn you a package you ordered can’t be delivered unless you pay or click on a link. Don’t fall for it!
  9. If you are registering a new account, set up new and unique passwords. 68% of seniors (and many of those who are younger) use the same password for all accounts!
  10. Don’t fall victim to a giving holiday-season heart when the scammers look for donations. Charity scams will prey on your senior’s emotions so check to see if it is legitimate before you give them your savings.
  11. Be wary of emails that say your credit card or bank account has a problem that requires you to divulge personal information, passwords, click a link or pay money. We have gotten them from a bank, credit card, ‘Google Team’, Facebook friends and delivery services which were all fake emails.
  12. When shopping in a store, disable your Bluetooth and WiFi settings on your devices so the stores can’t track your movement.

Here’s a fun quiz you can do with your senior to test your skills spotting online scams. It was created by Home Instead Senior Care in partnership with NCSA.

The old adages have truth for us today: Buyer beware and better safe than sorry!

We hope you use some of these tips to enjoy safe holiday shopping!

 

 




Cybersecurity for Your Senior’s Connected Life, Health, and Home

With the evolution and increase in growth of the use of many connected technologies, cybersecurity threats will follow.

Not might, not could, but will. We need to accept that as fact.

The threat is so real that October is set aside as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month by the Department of Homeland Security and this year we celebrate the 15th year of this initiative.

Their stated goal is to bring together government and industry to ensure that consumers have the resources they need to be secure online in the fight against cyber threats.

However, it is important for us to remember that we all have a share in the responsibility of cybersecurity, even if we are simply smartphone users.

Did you know that 10% of all iTunes downloads are for health and medical apps? That involves some of our most sensitive personal data.

We are all in some way dependent on a digital system rife with networks that open our seniors up to cyber risk.

In many cases, family caregivers are the ones who will protect their senior loved ones from risk when using all of their connected devices that bring them so many benefits.

By 2020, the market for connected devices will be 200 billion units.

Perform a Connected Device Survey

The first step toward device security is know which devices in your senior’s home need to be secured.

Most of us realize our computers, tablets, and smartphones are connected to the web and need to be protected, but our other connected devices may not be so obvious to us.

Which devices in your senior’s (or your own) home may be “connected”?

  • Computing devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones (yes, these are computing devices)
  • E-book readers
  • Smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home
  • Smart thermostats, such as Ecobee and Nest
  • Fitness trackers
  • Smart watches
  • Health devices that provide data via smartphone apps, such as heart rate and blood pressure monitors, pill organizers, bathroom scales, and more
  • Smart outlets, such as might be used to control lamps and other equipment via app
  • Bluetooth wireless headsets
  • Smart TVs and devices connected to TVs, such as Tivo, Apple TV, and Roku
  • Smart kitchen appliances and laundry equipment
  • Home security and monitoring systems and cameras

…and more, with the number of connected devices for the home growing all the time.

When thinking about the connected computing devices in a home, don’t forget the devices of guests who are allowed to connect to the home’s WiFi service (and even neighbors, if the WiFi is not secured).

How do you determine which devices in the home are connected to the web? Almost all are connected via the home’s WiFi network, cellular network, or via Bluetooth connection to one of the other connected devices, typically a smartphone.

WiFi Routers

Many devices are connected to the web via the WiFi router in the home. A list of these devices can be found on the router’s network map, which can be found by logging into the router via a browser on the device connected to it or the mobile app many new routers provide.

If you don’t know how to do this, it’s a good thing to learn, as the router is a primary hub for keeping all the connected devices in the home secure.

While looking at the router, check to see if there is a firmware update available and, if so, update it when you have a few minutes when connection to the web isn’t needed. Firmware functions like the operating system of your smartphone, playing a big role in the security of your network.

Bluetooth Devices

You can identify the devices connected by Bluetooth to smartphones, tablets, and even computers by checking the Bluetooth settings in the devices.

Those setting will show which devices have “registered” via Bluetooth with the computer device in the past and which, if any, are actively connected.

Once the connected devices in the home are identified, you can set out to ensure they’re secure, or at least as secure as practical.

What Should Caregivers Know About Medical Device Security

Medical devices, just as your senior’s computer or smartphone, are connected devices that are at risk for security breaches.

Did you know many medical devices have an expected lifespan of up to 30 years but the software itself may be obsolete in only 2 to 10 years — and maybe even less?

There are two potential areas of worry when it comes to cyber security with medical devices. One dangerous risk is the failure of the device to work as it was intended and the other danger is the loss of personal information that could be used for ID theft.

The FDA approves most medical devices in use today but only that their benefits outweigh their security risk. This doesn’t mean that there are no risks if a devices is approved. They do not test products for security risk but leave that voluntarily to the manufacturer. They are more concerned with the efficacious functioning of the device to do as it is intended such as pump your heart, register your blood sugar or administer IV medications.

Experts believe that only 51% of manufacturers are following the FDA guidelines for risk mitigation.

The problem with vulnerable connected health devices is that their breaches can result in potentially harmful failures of the safety and effectiveness of the very devices our seniors need to manage and treat chronic health conditions.

When the medical devices are connected to healthcare systems for monitoring, it is incumbent upon the healthcare system to put in place security measures to prevent cyber security issues from occurring on their network especially when securing your senior’s personal data.

Malware is considered one of the most serious threats to medical devices at this time. A device that has been infected with malware could malfunction, giving inaccurate data that could cause a harmful situation for your senior’s health.

Security experts say hacking of medical devices seems to be less of a concern currently.

The most vulnerable area in cyber security for a medical device is the user authentication, according to industry experts. This is where the hacker enters the picture.

Hackers are known for draining the battery of medical devices, which could lead to failure, especially in pacemakers and wearables. Experts encourage users to set up passwords on these devices and don’t keep the initial defaults established with the device’s use to block authentication troubles and hacking.

These devices also need their firmware updated regularly and potential security upgrades patched in when necessary. When you and your senior are prompted to do so, be sure to update the software.

Steps for Caregivers to Secure Seniors’ Tech

Caregivers, once they understand the risks that are inherent with connected devices, especially for health, can take steps to protect the security of their senior’s (and their own) devices.

Here are some things you both should be doing to stay safe and avoid becoming a victim of cyber criminals:

  1. Lock your devices, including phone and tablets, to keep prying eyes out and criminals away.
  2. Install malware protection apps or software to do all you can to keep your connected devices ‘clean’ and more secure.
  3. Conduct regular scans on your internet connected devices to check for viruses or spyware and keep your software up to date (don’t ignore the update alerts on your computer, tablet, or smartphone).
  4. If you use USB external devices, scan those for viruses and malware too.
  5. Use strong passwords that aren’t easy for others to guess. Remember, criminals look at your social media and know your pet’s name and your birthdate! Write them down in a safe place away from the device. Better yet, use a secure password vault-type app.
  6. Be sure you are using the latest biometrics and two-part authentication systems to further strengthen your security for all connected devices.
  7. Clean out any unused apps and ensure the ones you keep have been regularly updated, along with your smartphone operating system.
  8. Try not to use public WiFi at all, opting instead to use cellular data. Yes, it may be more expensive but can save you a great deal in security. If you must, use extreme caution if you link with free wireless hotspots where your connection can be easily compromised and your personal information taken or spyware implanted.
  9. Don’t open emailed documents or links or text message links from people, even those you know or think you know like a bank, IRS, or package delivery company (they often aren’t real!) unless you are expecting that specific person to send you the document or link
  10. Have you cleaned out digital files on your computer lately? Are there things on there you no longer need but could divulge personal information to someone untrustworthy if you lose the device or it is stolen? Time to declutter the desktop, laptop or smartphone.
  11. Before you toss out any digital device (USBs, external hard drives, flash memory, wearables and even printers), ensure you know that they have been “shredded” correctly to remove any traces of your personal information. This is important for all devices not just computers and phones.
  12. Empty your trash file regularly but also use a program that will permanently wipe your data off your device making it irretrievable.
  13. Keep all IoT smart home connected devices – such as thermostats, toys and home assistants – up to date with the latest firmware and any available security software.
  14. The internet is still in ink so be careful about the information that is posted on social media platforms which could compromise your cyber security in the future.
  15. Secure your home WiFi Router with a strong password to keep unwelcome visitors out.
  16. Disable Bluetooth and WiFi when out of the house since some places track your movements on your devices when you are within range.

The only way to be fully secure is not to connect your device to the web — or maybe even to avoid turning it on. From a practical standpoint, though, in this age of technology, it has become almost impossible to not be connected.

All the wonderful benefits your senior can get from using innovative technology for health, safety, and aging in place independence bring with them risks associated with being connected to the web. We can help our loved ones minimize those risks and use their devices safely and securely.

Many of our senior loved ones won’t use connected devices if they live in fear the devices are not safe.

That puts it in our hands as family caregivers to address that fear and, hopefully, put it to rest.