Using Technology to Balance Safety & Autonomy in Dementia

I know, it’s been a little quiet here at Geritech…mainly because things are busy over at Better Health While Aging (BHWA).

But I haven’t forgotten about tech tools to help older adults and families. In fact, the more the audience at BHWA grows, the more I feel a need to find useful tools that can help them.

Unsurprisingly, a big need is for help with cognitive issues and dementia caregiving.

In particular, people often want to know what technology I can suggest to help their older loved one stay safe at home, or be found if lost outside the home.

My own panel of consultation patients is currently too small to enable me to have a lot of hands-on experience with these types of tech tools.

So last month, I invited my former VA colleague Mary Hulme to join me on the BHWA podcast.

Mary is a geriatric social worker who is an expert in dementia care. She also developed a particular interest in technology tools several years ago, and co-authored the book “Caring from Afar: A Guide to Home Sensor Systems for Aging Parents” in 2014.

On the podcast, we discussed the ever-present challenge of balancing safety and autonomy, and then we talked about several different types of technology that families can use.

If this is a topic of interest to you, you can find the podcast episode here:

061 – Interview: Using Technology to Balance Safety & Autonomy in Dementia

Have you used any home sensor, personal emergency response, or GPS-tracking systems for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia?

If so, I’d love to know what you tried and how it worked out for you. Please post a comment here, or on the show notes page for the podcast episode!


Notes from the Aging 2.0 Optimize 2017 Conference

Aging 2.0 OptimizeLast week, I attended Aging 2.0’s flagship OPTIMIZE conference. This was my third major Aging 2.0 conference (you can read my comments on the first one here, and the second one here), and it’s neat to see how the aging innovation community has grown and evolved since Aging 2.0 was founded in 2012.

I live-tweeted the conference (that’s part of why I get to go); you can read the Storify collection of my tweets here, or at the bottom of this post.

In this post, I’ll cover a few highlights that I found especially interesting, namely:

  • The Aging 2.0 Great Challenges
  • Bill Thomas’ keynote
  • The “elder workforce” best practice session
  • The AI and IOT-enabled engagement and fall prevention session
  • The winner of the Aging 2.0 Global Startup Search

The Aging 2.0 Great Challenges

Aging 2.0 announced the launch of a Grand Challenges initiative earlier this year.

The Grand Challenges are:

  • Engagement & Purpose
  • Financial Wellness
  • Mobility & Movement
  • Daily Living & Lifestyle
  • Caregiving
  • Care Coordination
  • Brain Health
  • End of Life

You can learn more about these grand challenges here.

The topics are “the result of five years of bottom-up and top-down dialogue with stakeholders from across Aging2.0’s interdisciplinary, intergenerational, international community of older adults, senior care providers, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs.”

Although all eight topics are innovation priorities for Aging 2.0, they announced at the conference that in 2018 they will particularly focus on caregiving & brain health.

Challenges such as this are kind of interesting to think about. I think that they are partly a conceptual model to frame the way a community thinks about opportunities/problems, and also partly a marketing approach.

As the saying goes, no model is perfect, some are more useful than others. [Read more…]

Interview: Upcoming Aging 2.0 Optimize Conference & Important Problems in Need of Solutions

Aging 2.0 OptimizeTime for me to take another look at what’s most interesting and promising, when it comes to innovations to help older adults and their families.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to attend an Aging 2.0 conference. So next week, I’ll be going to Optimize, their flagship conference which will be taking place in San Francisco.

Recently, I had an opportunity to interview Anne Tumlinson, of, for the Better Health While Aging podcast.

Like me, Anne has a particular interest providing practical help to those helping aging parents. She’s also an experienced health policy analyst, with a special focus on long-term care, and a nationally known speaker on aging and caregiving issues.

In this conversation, we talk about some of the problems that are most pressing for older adults and families. We also talk about some particular innovations and ideas that will be presented at Aging 2.0.

To listen to this conversation, visit the episode page:

Interview: Innovations to Help Older Adults & Family Caregivers

Or read the transcript below.

Then let me know in the comments: Will you be Optimize 2017 next week? What kinds of innovations and solutions are you hoping to hear about?

Transcript: GeriTech & Daughterhood talk about needed innovations & Aging 2.0 Optimize

[Read more…]

AARP’s 6th Innovation@50+: GeriTech’s Take on the Caregiving Health Technology Finalists

On April 12 & 13, 2017, AARP hosted its sixth Innovation@50+ LivePitch event, an event that allows a group of chosen start-ups to pitch to a consumer audience and a panel of venture capitalists.

This year, the event had a “dual focus on Caregiving Health Technology and Financial Technology.”  AARP presented two slates of 10 start-ups,  one for each focus area, each with its own panel of judges.

In this post, I’ll list brief descriptions of the finalists for the Caregiving Health Technology group. I’ll comment on how promising they seem to me — in terms of improving the healthcare of older adults and the lives of family caregivers— and tell you which products I’m most interested in. [Read more…]

New Year, New Administration: It’s time to pay attention to policy

As everyone knows, a new administration is about to begin in the federal government.

So I have been thinking about what this might mean for the health and well-being of older adults, and family caregivers.

In terms of impact on the lives of seniors, the actions of federal, state, and local governments are MUCH more powerful than the impact of the health and aging innovation sector. Really, what government agencies do — and most importantly, pay for — often leads the tech innovators, rather than the other way around.

In particular, Medicare’s policies drive the health care experience for older adults, Medicaid is a major source of long-term supports and services in aging, and the services funded by the Older Americans Act provide (not yet enough) information and assistance to older adults and families.

Donald Trump, as far as I know, did not really emphasize aging or family caregiving issues during his campaign. His campaign proposed tax deductions for family caregiving.  And I’m not aware of his addressing aging issues other than saying he’d leave Medicare and Social Security alone. [Read more…]