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home care remote monitoring

Remote Monitoring That Will Assist Caregivers

The advent of new technology is helping people that require some level of assistance stay independent in their homes longer. One of the technologies taking the market by storm is the GrandCare System. The GrandCare System is finding its way into a number of areas including residences, small group homes and even larger independent and assisted living facilities.

In a nut shell, GrandCare is a three level system. Level one provides a social interface for the end-user, level two is a health and wellness monitoring portion and level three monitors daily activity. Throw in basic home automation control and you have a fully interactive monitoring system that will provide the assistance that is needed by a large portion of the population.

With the rising cost of healthcare, we need to find new solutions that allow early detection of potential problems and address them prior to hospitalization. One hospital admittance and the system can be paid for. Also, with the average cost of assisted living topping $50,000 per year….the cost of a system can be absorbed in a number of months and extend the ability to stay at home for years. Couple a GrandCare System with a PERS and medication management system and the cost is still well below assisted living.

Level One

The first part of the Grandcare is the social interface. This portion of the system is designed to keep the user in touch with the world (even without knowing how to use a computer). It provides a central place for family to share things like photos and information. The system provides a touch screen computer and can also be connected to a TV. The touch screen allows the user to access pre-set internet sites, receive and send email, listen to music, play games and more. When not being used for an activity, the system will display; photos (that can be uploaded by family), trivia, weather, news headlines, daily reminders and other items that the family and user can designate.

Level Two

Level two is something we all need! It is the Health and Wellness side of the system. Via a wireless interface, the system will monitor weight, blood pressure and pulse-ox. The caregiver/family member can create rules so when the system detects changes, it will notify them via email, text message or a simple phone call. (More on rules later). The system will also monitor the glucose levels of the user. Combine all of the monitoring with a complete reporting system that generates reports that can be printed out and given to your doctor. This provides a much more detailed and lengthy look of the patient allowing the doctor to make better decisions then they can when they get that ten or fifteen minute snap shot when you are in for a check-up.

Level Three

Level three is designed to monitor the daily activity of the occupants of the home. It is a non evasive way of ensuring that they are ok. The system will monitor doors, windows, the refrigerator….basically, anything that can be opened. It will also look at motion, lack of motion or excessive motion in any area that is monitored. For example, if a person gets out of bed at 7AM every day, the system can be programmed to watch for no motion in the home between say, 6AM and 8AM indicating they didn’t get up. It can also monitor if a person is in bed or out of bed and how much they are moving around. By doing that, we can determine how well someone sleeps and if they are not sleeping well address it so they sleep better. The system will also advise caregivers and family members if someone is out of bed for an extended period at night, possibly indicating a problem. With the ability to monitor just about anything combined with the rules that can be created, you can create a truly safe environment.

Care Notes

This is an area for caregivers and family members that visit the user to perform assistance tasks, check on wellbeing or for any other reason they stop in. The care notes allow a person to enter basic notes. For example, a daytime caregiver may leave a note for the overnight caregiver saying that the resident has the flu so make sure they are drinking fluids. Or a daughter may stop by and notice that dad has a cut on his head from a fall so he needs to be checked on from time to time for the next 24 hours. All of the care notes can be reviewed from any computer with an internet connection and are also sent out via email at the end of the day to the people that you designate. This allows everyone to stay up to date as to what is going on.

The Rules

The GrandCare System allows rules to be setup by the caregiver or family members. This is an extremely flexible part of the system and very easy to modify as needs or areas of concern change. Some of the systems that are similar to GrandCare use Artificial Intelligence (AI). This allows the computer to set rules based on what it determines is the “normal activity” of the user. That works well providing that when the system is installed, the user has no existing conditions. The system may decide that something that is truly an issue is normal activity.
The rules in the GrandCare System can be setup to send a message via Text Message, Email or can use an automated voice and place a phone call to a designated person. You can also use any combination of the notifications. You can also use rules to cause something to happen in the home, say turn on a light. A few examples follow;
1) If no motion is detected between 7AM and 9AM send a text message to caregiver 1
2) If any door opens between 10PM and 6AM call caregiver 2
3) If person gets out of bed between 10PM and 7AM turn on the bathroom light
4) If a person is out of bed for more the 15 minutes between 10PM and 7AM, call caregiver 1
5) If a glucose reading is below 100, call the home and say “ Your blood sugar is low please drink orange juice”
The rules that can be created are almost endless and can be modified as needed. This allows the system to be customized to today and then changed to meet tomorrow’s needs.


You will want to work with a local and reputable authorized dealer. The system brings a lot of capabilities; however during setup and installation this can overwhelm and confuse the caregivers and family members. Plus, you want to get the most from the system. When the system is first installed, the dealer will help to determine the best layout of the sensors based on the individual needs and help setup the users and rules. Some dealers will have a follow-up meeting about two weeks after the installation to review rules, adjust sensors and make any changes that are needed now that the system has real data from day to day use. The dealer will charge a monthly fee that typically covers the monthly software license (charged by the manufacturer), the hosting for alert notification, software updates and sometimes on going service for hardware failure. Some dealers will even take care of rule changes, adding users and other ongoing software maintenance. Spend time with your dealer and ensure that they are a good fit for you and your family.
When all is said and done, this is a system that can greatly improve safety, independence and general daily life of the user. However, this is not a put it in and forget it system, you want to have the family(Children, Grandchildren, Cousins etc…no matter where they live) involved and keep the photos new and changing, sending emails to the user and keeping information fresh. This will help to keep someone who may be isolated from the rest of the world more active and involved.

About the author:

James Gleason is co-owner of JNL Technologies Inc, a company that is focused on safety systems both for the residential setting as well as assisted, independent and skilled care settings. James has spent the last 15 years working in this industry and serving our population

grandCARE featured in Improving Seniors’ Home Safety Through Software IndustryView

Software Advice, a resource for software buyers looking to improve their home heath and long-term care services, recently featured GrandCARE in their report on senior home safety:
“Some vendors, such as grandCARE Systems, cater to average families and home health agencies alike. These vendors’ products and services include sensors that can be configured to send out alerts, wireless touch screens to facilitate communication for seniors, telehealth support and more.”

“Seniors aging at home are constantly at risk for life-threatening falls,” says Market Researcher Gaby Loria. “We wanted to take on this topic in our research report as a way to highlight home safety initiatives, measure adoption rates for those initiatives and explore technology’s growing role in keeping older Americans safe in their houses.”

The results signaled many older Americans and their families are hesitant to implement both traditional and tech-based home safety measures. “The bulk of our findings are surprising because we expected seniors to embrace tools and technology that would minimize their risks for hospitalization while allowing them to age at home,” says Loria. “This just goes to show why it’s so important for home health agencies to act on their own opportunities for promoting a safe environment in patient homes.”

grandCARE products

grandCARE products

Read the whole article here

Virtual chats with grandCARE relieves loneliness, enhances happiness

Virtual Chats With grandCARE Can Help Fight Loneliness in the Elderly

Products Like GrandCare Can Help You Stay In Touch With Loved Ones and Reduce Isolation and Loneliness.

Social isolation does more than just make our elderly lonely. More recent research suggests that loneliness is actually a predictor of functional decline and even death. A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine late in 2012 showed that for adults who are over the age of 60, loneliness can have adverse health effects. It can worsen existing medical conditions, as well as contribute to new ones.

But many elders have trouble using computers to stay in touch.

Esther using Skype with Laura's Son

So what can families and long distance caregivers do to help fight loneliness in their senior loved one?

  1. If your loved one is able to get out and about in their community but they no longer drive, arrange transportation for them. The local agency on aging or senior center can be a good resource to help you with this. Most maintain a list of quality, reliable senior transportation services. They can also connect you with events and activities your loved one can participate in close to home.
  2. Talk with local religious organizations to see what senior services they offer. Many have friendly visitor programs with volunteers who make house calls to provide companionship. Most can also arrange transportation to weekly services.
  3. Consider employing the services of a companion, homemaker,  personal care assistant, or live-in caregiver. They not only provide your loved one with help around the house, but also a friendly visitor to chat with a few days each week, or around the clock.
  4. Technology can also provide a variety of solutions. One that allows you to have a virtual face-to-face conversation once or twice a day with your older family member is GrandCare. This senior-friendly system doesn’t require a keyboard or a mouse to operate. It requires only a simple touch of the screen to open a video connection.  Adult children and grandchildren can video chat and share the daily news with their aging family member. GrandCare also allows caregivers to send reminders about appointments and medications and to share family photos. The senior can even send voice emails with this system.

Read the entire article here

GrandCare identified as major player in mhealth market

mHealth Elderly Home Monitoring Growth Drawing New Players to the Market, Finds ABI Research

October 09, 2014 11:55 AM Eastern Daylight Time

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Over the next 5 years, a new generation of elderly home care services will drive wearable device shipments to more than 44 million in 2019 up from just 6 million in 2013. In 2014 alone, shipments of wearable devices linked to elderly care systems will more than double over those in 2013, finds the latest ABI Research analysis of the mHealth market.

“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”

Growing adoption comes as tech savvy families increasingly turn to home monitoring offerings for assurance their aging parents and family members are safe and well. In addition, new offerings are boosting and extending a market that has long been the territory of dedicated, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”-type personal emergency response systems. A host of niche players including BeClose, GrandCare Systems, Independa and others have all emerged to capitalize on a combination of market demand and the potential to leverage connected devices and systems.


See how one resident gained independence and social connection using GrandCare technology

….  Read the Entire Article

Knute Nelson and GrandCare Systems Present Seminar on Technology Empowered Caregivers at Silicon Valley Conference

November 7, 2013

Katie Perry, Foundation Executive Director
Knute Nelson
Direct: 320-763-1153


Knute Nelson and GrandCare Systems Present Seminar on Technology Empowered Caregivers at Silicon Valley Conference

Knute Nelson, a leading senior care provider, and digital health remote monitoring pioneer, GrandCare Systems, have been selected to present “The New Care Professional: Powered by Digital Health Technology” at the AgeTech West Conference November 14-15, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. The AgeTech West conference entitled, “Aging Services Meets Silicon Valley: Creating the Future of Care” aims to arm aging organizations with guidance, support and the latest enabling technologies to create the best, most efficient and highly innovative aging service organizations.

“With the convergence of an aging population, declining percentage of care practitioners, and rapidly evolving technological capabilities — all at a time of healthcare reform — aging service providers have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage technology to help people remain healthy and independent as they age,” says AgeTech West Executive Director Scott Peifer.

Daphne Karpan, Registered Nurse and Palliative Care Manager at Knute Nelson, will present alongside Vice President of Business Development for GrandCare Systems, Laura Mitchell. Together, they will demonstrate how caregiving organizations like Knute Nelson are utilizing digital health and activity monitoring technologies to change and better the way caregiving services are deployed, without compromising quality.

GrandCare is an all-in-one, in-home monitoring and sensor technology that enhances direct client care to promote aging in place. Using a small, touch screen monitor placed in a client’s home, both clients and their families are able to access resources on topics such as health and wellness, bereavement and chronic disease education. GrandCare allows clients, caregivers and nursing professionals the ability to access essential client information to monitor and ensure proactive health care interventions. GrandCare also promotes family connectivity through video chat and multi-media sharing features.

“Knute Nelson has proven to be a visionary, creative and innovative partner,” said GrandCare’s, Laura Mitchell. “The professional caregiving industry is embracing technology solutions to positively impact patient care. Knute Nelson is a great example for others who want to see how it is done.”

The Knute Nelson Foundation was awarded two separate grants to introduce GrandCare technologies to palliative care and hospice clients throughout a 25-county west central Minnesota region where Knute Nelson serves. The grants were awarded by the Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Human Services through their Community Services/Service Development Program.

For information on Knute Nelson Home Care and Hospice visit www.knutenelson.org or call 320-759-1273.

About Knute Nelson
Knute Nelson, a 501c3 non-profit, faith-based corporation, is an innovative leader in senior housing and health care that offers a full family of services to the West Central Minnesota region. Knute Nelson Home Care and Hospice offer services provided in the comfort of an individual’s home ranging from skilled nursing care, physical/occupational/speech therapies, medication and pain management, smart home technology solutions and home health aide services throughout a 25-county region in West Central Minnesota. Persons of any age qualify for service.

About GrandCare
Since 2005, GrandCare Systems has provided the most comprehensive caregiving technology on the market, enabling individuals to remain safe, healthy and happy at home. GrandCare’s simple, touch platform enables a Resident to view pictures, receive incoming messages, watch videos, video chat with family, listen to music and play fun games. Using a series of wireless activity and telehealth devices, GrandCare can alert designated caregivers by phone, email or text if anything seems amiss (medications not accessed, glucose levels not taken, abnormal activity, etc.)

About AgeTech West
AgeTech West is a collaborative founded by LeadingAge California, LeadingAge Oregon and LeadingAge Washington advancing the delivery of tech-enabled aging services toward a new standard of care.


Laurie Orlov predicts GrandCare will benefit from software-based design

Laurie Orlov had a great newsletter this month with a number of aging/technology industry predictions.

She mentions GrandCare Systems as a software-based platform that she predicts will benefit from the innate architecture and structure of the GrandCare technology.

“PREDICTION – mHEALTH REVIVES MONITORING:  The stationary nature of in-home activity and telehealth monitoring will give way to a disconnect-and-go tablet world that can be docked at home and plays nicely with a cell/smart cellular model. For those walking the floors at CES, you will see tablet apps of every type flowering hither and yon – perhaps you’ll see them tether to a phone. RIM, the anti-marketer, produced an early version of this with the Playbook-BlackBerry tethering. Why not a few tablet apps for seniors (in addition to health and activity monitoring) that sync up with a phone-like device? It may be like trying to cram a large box into a flat rectangle, to start at the hardware end — look at Care Innovations Guide, for example. Why not a partnership between a fitness device vendor (like Fitbit or Philips DirectLife) and a remote monitoring vendor like BeClose or Healthsense?  And software-only products like Independa and GrandCare may well benefit from both platform flexibility and a new interest in combining activity sensors and health monitoring.”

Read the entire newsletter here

Announcements from Leading Technology Companies to Occur at Conference Highlighting the Imperative of Technology-Enabled Care for Older Californians

Please note that GrandCare Systems will be exhibiting at the AgeTech Conference in California on November 15th. We will be in booth 250
See the floor plan http://cahsah.org/educational_events/Expo/AgeTechExpoHall.asp


November 3, 2011

Contact: Kristy Oriol

Tel: 916- 469-3383

Announcements from Leading Technology Companies to Occur at Conference Highlighting the Imperative of Technology-Enabled Care for Older Californians

Pasadena, California – November 15, 2011 AgeTech California, a joint initiative between the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) and Aging Services of California, will host California’s premier provider technology event – the Annual AgeTech California Conference & Technology Expo at the Hilton Hotel in Pasadena, California from 8am-5:30pm. Attendees of this conference will learn from leading experts about “Tech-enabled Care Management at Home: Our Future Imperative.” Experts will provide cutting edge information on technology-enabled care and business models that reposition wellness and health care in the place people call home, saving scarce resources while delivering the most satisfying products and services to older Californians. In addition, twenty industry technology companies will showcase their products and services in this intimate setting.

“As we age, our technologies can become even more valuable to us, but it is not about the next ‘gifted gadget.’ Instead, the most useful technologies will be those that present intuitive and unobtrusive solutions that foster connectedness while preserving autonomy and independence,” said Dr. Joseph Smith, Chief Medical and Science Officer at the San Diego-based West Wireless Health Institute. Dr. Smith will be delivering the closing keynote presentation.

Media is invited to attend an interactive lunch session where exhibitors will discuss new product launches and advances in eCare technology. Product announcements include:

· AOD Software becoming the first and currently only Electronic Health Record to be CCHIT Certified® 2011 LTPAC. This will advance the progress of Electronic Health Records to meet the achievements of other areas of healthcare like inpatient and ambulatory settings. This makes long term care well positioned to participate in the future of Accountable Care Organizations and interoperabilityAOD Press Release

· Dakim’s BrainFitness upgrade of their touch screen platform to showcase its award-winning brain boosting program Dakim Press Release

· GrandCare’s collaboration with CoroHealth, providing musical therapy for seniors GrandCare Press Release

The interactive luncheon interviews will be facilitated by Cindy Campbell, Associate Director, Operational Consulting of Fazzi Associates, and Tim Rowan, Editor of the HomeCare Technology Report. In a statement by Cindy Campbell, she discusses the necessity of affordable and accessible healthcare delivery systems supported by available technologies:

“Mounting levels of chronic disease represent an unmet and human need for care management. Within this need, there is a growing divide in quality healthcare delivery between the haves and have-nots. More than half of bankruptcies in the U.S. are being driven by healthcare cost, many of those in the insured population. Solving this problem requires affordable solutions. A clear and accessible path for today is to move care to the least expensive and least restrictive location – the patient’s home – whenever possible. Fully leveraging the existing expertise of home health and hospice providers and eCare technologies can result in more effective, less expensive, more accessible care”.

Tim Rowan goes on to say:

“Today’s elderly may express a strong preference to remain in their homes as they age and need more and more health care services but the Baby Boomer generation will demand it when they reach their 70’s and 80’s. Fortunately, advances in home-based healthcare technologies make it possible to deliver high-quality care in the patient’s home at a fraction of costs incurred at in-patient facilities. There is legitimate reason for concern, however, as private and government payers continue to be slow to acknowledge the superior care quality and net savings that accrue from the use of in-home “eCare” technologies. Forcing avoidable hospital admissions, which always follow when unattended conditions worsen, foolishly sacrifices long-term cost reductions for short-term savings”.

Beth Hennessey, Executive Director of Integrated Chronic Care with Sutter Care at Home will deliver the morning keynote presentation. She comments on the potential of technology driven care models for chronic care management:

“We advocate that chronic care management be the starting point of national healthcare reform by re-focusing home and community providers as an ‘army at the ready’, utilizing a proven high-touch, high-tech care delivery model. With the implementation of this model, homecare providers across the nation have successfully demonstrated positive outcomes in patient experience, quality of care, and affordability. Imperative to this model’s success is the integration of technology supporting the needs of patients, families, and providers across the healthcare system”.

Scott Peifer, AgeTech California’s executive director surmises that “Ultimately, such models are the future imperative for sustainable wellness, sustainable resources and sustainable aging services and home care organizations.”

The interactive lunch will be held from 12PM-1PM and media interviews will occur after the lunch in the expo hall and in the San Jose Board Room. Contact Kristy Oriol to schedule interviews, Koriol@aging.org, 916-469-3383. For more information on the conference, visit the event web site.

AgeTech California was established to promote the use of advanced health and wellness technologies by aging services and home care providers throughout California. Its primary focus is on technologies that enable older Californians’ aging in “connected independence” with safety and security, personal health maintenance, successful management of chronic disease, early detection of illness, and prevention of acute episodes. Such technologies include telehealth, electronic health records, sensor telemonitoring, remote medication management, safety technologies, and cognitive fitness among others that enable eCare and personal wellness while enhancing caregiving and cost efficiency. AgeTech is a programmatic partnership of Aging Services of California and the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH).



GrandCare Systems and CoroHealth Announce a Harmonious Collaboration

West Bend, WI – November 2, 2011 – GrandCare Systems and Coro Health today announced a strategic collaboration to integrate Coro Health’s Streaming Music into GrandCare’s fully-featured remote activity of daily living monitoring, telehealth and socialization system.  The result is a harmonious experience: giving the GrandCare customer a deeper level of musical entertainment, passion and familial communication.

“It’s a natural fit” states GrandCare Systems Founder and CEO, Charles Hillman.  “GrandCare Systems has always embraced a holistic approach by considering the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of wellness. We are excited to collaborate with Coro Health, one of the pioneers in therapeutic music.”

“Music is much more than a series of notes” remarks David Schofman, Founder of Coro Health.  “It can reach deep into the human spirit and change a mood in an instant. GrandCare’s platform provides a perfect home for Coro Health’s therapeutic music and will help to enable Loved Ones to remain connected and happy in their homes.”

GrandCare Systems and Coro Health will be showcasing the Digital Home Health and music partnership at the upcoming AgeTech California Technology Conference & Exposition on November 15th at the Hilton Hotel in Pasadena, CA.

About GrandCare Systems: On the market since 2006, GrandCare Systems is a pioneer in the aging and technology digital home health industry.  GrandCare offers a senior friendly, Internet-enabled, private home touch screen system aimed at maintaining independence, enabling full family socialization, controlling chronic conditions, and reducing hospital readmissions. It combines the technologies of smart home, activity monitoring, wellness monitoring, and social connectivity. The wellness aspect includes wireless physiological readings (weight, blood pressure, oximeter, glucometer), self- assessment, and medication compliance with associated rule sets, alerts, and congregate analytics. The social aspect includes one button Skype, Coro Health music, wellness videos, reminders, and other standard social media content aimed at reducing isolation, educating the resident, and influencing them to better self-manage his/her own health.

About Coro Health: Coro Health is a new media healthcare company. We create, design and distribute therapeutic media to support individuals within a wide range of healthcare settings. Our flagship products include MusicFirst and CoroFaith. Both programs are individually designed for users and delivered via a cloud-based and device agnostic network. Our customers include long-term care communities, hospitals, rehabilitation agencies, home health companies and end consumers.

GrandCare Media Contact:
Laura Mitchell
VP of Marketing
Press kit: https://www.grandcare.com/presskit/docs/PressKit.pdf

Coro Health Media Contact:
Leanne J. Flask
Chief Content Officer

Aging Baby Boomers Drawing Attention to Health Monitoring Tools – Ihealth Beat

Read an article from HealthyCal in ihealth beat the other day on the lack of awareness of Technology from the aging boomer perspective!

I agree with Lynn Reddington from the article – – the awareness that such technology even exists as a piece of the puzzle is not there. The numbers that Douglas provides in the article are astounding, the cost of technology as a supplement to hands-on care should be a no brainer. What we need is for the media, home health care providers and medical care providers to promote the use of technology to help provide ultimate care.

GrandCare technology has helped families to keep a loved one at home, independent and safe, while giving them a new window into the virtual world (SKYPE, email, online games, weather/news, videos, music, etc.). Why shouldn’t our aging population be able to experience all of the wonderful things that the Internet provides for us every day? Thanks for the article HealthyCal and keep spreading the word!

Monday, July 11, 2011 

Aging Baby Boomers Drawing Attention to Health Monitoring Tools

As baby boomers age, more companies are creating remote health monitoring and telemedicine devices to help elderly residents remain in their homes, but the public and physicians are not widely aware of such tools, HealthyCal reports.

Details of the Devices

Homes and assisted living facilities are being equipped with new technology designed to cut medical costs and comfort patients.

Such devices are aimed at:

  • Coordinating care among health care providers;
  • Improving cognitive function using “brain fitness” programs;
  • Monitoring chronic disease;
  • Providing early detection of illness; and
  • Reminding seniors to take their medication.

Steps Taken by Industry and Education

General Electric and Intel recently formed a joint venture to develop new health care tools. Among other products, the joint firm offers tools that track vital signs and patient movement.

In addition, the University of California-Davis Medical Center is scheduled to open a Telehealth Resource Center next summer. The center will be used to train medical professionals on how to use home telehealth technologies, according to Thomas Nesbitt, associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances at UC-Davis.

Challenges, Benefits of the Tools

Despite the growing interest in remote monitoring tools, several hurdles exist for seniors who want to use the devices. For example:

  • Medicare and private insurers typically do not cover the costs of devices;
  • Most family physicians are not technologically knowledgeable enough to promote the devices; and
  • Patients could be harmed by the systems in some cases if they fail to work properly.

In addition, a lack of awareness of such tools exists.

Lynn Redington — senior program director for the Center for Technology and Aging — said, “We find the awareness level of telehealth solutions is pretty low.”

Even so, observers say the lower cost of care associated with using the devices can be beneficial to family and state budgets.

Douglas Busch of Intel estimated that the cost to provide care to aging adults at home is about $10 per day, compared with $10,000 per day at an intensive care unit.

Remote monitoring devices also can help ease transportation problems and the need for family members to take time off work to provide care (Perry, HealthyCal, 7/10).

Read more: http://www.ihealthbeat.org/articles/2011/7/11/aging-baby-boomers-drawing-attention-to-health-monitoring-tools.aspx#ixzz1RvOvM1OO

A Connected Living Boom for Boomers

An article from viodi.com
June 21st 2011
By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Declining population and an aging demographic are challenges for many rural U.S. telecom operators and their communities. These challenges may be even greater in other countries, such as China where it will only take 26 years for its population aged 65 and over to increase from 7 to 14% of the general populace (as compared to 76% for the U.S.). Where there are challenges, there are also opportunities and the focus of last week’s 8th Annual Boomer Venture Summit at Santa Clara University was on the opportunities to serve an aging population through new devices and services.

Greg O’Neill, PhD, of the National Academy on an Aging Society, indicated that as societies move from an agricultural to industrial to service economy and get wealthier, they also make a demographic transition from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates. There is concern that some of the developing countries will make this transition too quickly and that they will, “Grow old before they grow rich.”

Panel at 8th Annual Boomer Venture SummitOne implication of this demographic trend is that China will not be the low-cost labor competitor in 10 years. O’Neill thinks there is an opportunity to create products and services for the growing senior market, whether in the U.S or internationally. The challenge may be making these products and services affordable.
Panel at 8th Annual Boomer Venture Summit

Scott Collins, president and CEO of Linkage, which is essentially a buying organization for senior living communities, warned of “A wave of poverty coming down the road.” He said that affordability is a key need.

One organization that is morphing to reflect a changing environment is AARP. Jody Holtzmann, SVP of Thought Leadership for AARP, emphasized how AARP has to be mission driven, instead of organization-driven. Their mission of improving the quality of life of all, as people age reflected the conference exhibitors and speakers who offered up products and services such as:

  • A Cellular radio-based, inexpensive Personal Emergency Response System, from SurePod, that provides mobility and a two-way voice connection to a call center in the event of an emergency.
  • Body Area Networking – ReFlex Wireless, a start-up has developed a series of wireless sensors for monitoring parameters such as pulse, heart rhythms, position and envisions applications both within the hospital and at home.
  • More than just transportation, SilverRide provides companionship and personalized activities for their customers. Reliable transportation is an important element in helping people age at home.
  • Flipper Remote – a simple, six button remote control. Their new model promises to tune Internet video programming as well.
  • Home Health Tech – a distributor to dealers of technology that helps people live independent in their own homes. Home Health Tech distributes products from GrandCare Systems and Presto were featured in this video interview at CES 2011.
  • Cookstop – stovetop fire prevention, which turns off the stove if motion isn’t detected in a user-determined amount of time. They are finding that it has use from seniors to college students.

The Cookstop product is indicative of a design approach that AARP advocates in their recently issued report, “Connected Living for Social Aging: Designing Technology for All.” In the forward to that report, Holtzmann suggests that, “the ‘lens’ of every user group must be a conscious part of the design function.”

An underlying assumption to the report is the availability of some form of wired or wireless broadband. AARP sees broadband, coupled with new devices, transforming the way people volunteer, socialize and work in their senior years. The report advises vendors to move forward with better products that will help baby boomers stay connected and live social lives; echoing the theme of the 8th Annual Boomer Venture Summit.