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 Daughterhood.org, 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…]

How to address the “#1 health issue” in aging?

  1. healthy-aging-older-womenWhat is the #1 health issue that threatens quality of life as we age?
  2. And what is the #1 thing that can be done to prevent that health concern?

These are two questions I received by email recently, on behalf of a woman who is part of the “health and healthy lifestyles subcommittee” for a “village information network” that aims to support older adults in her community.

She also asked the following related questions:

  • Do you know of a best practice somewhere, that could serve as a model for that prevention of that health issue?
  • Do you know of a small town somewhere that is doing a great job with livability for older adults?
  • Do you know of any inter-generational healthy lifestyle programs that might work well in our college town?

I was invited to provide very short one sentence answers, presumably for my convenience but also perhaps to keep things simple for the committee, who surely doesn’t want to wade through long dissertations on barriers to better aging and better approaches.

But I found myself unable to promptly respond with short answers. To begin with, because I have a health services research background, my initial reflex is to want to check on the “evidence” rather than fire off a response related to my own hunches or personal experience.

But any evidence related to the first two questions will depend on which population is being studied. How old, and with what underlying health conditions? Urban, suburban, or rural? Socioeconomic status and ethnicity? Community-dwelling or in facilities?

And how to define “quality of life as we age”? Quality-adjusted life years? Or perhaps other metrics that take into account autonomy, purpose, and social connectedness? (See here and here for scholarly articles addressing this issue.)

As you see, it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole when considering the “simple” question of what is the #1 threat to quality of life while aging.

Still, the questions are compelling, especially when considered in light of the practical needs at hand. A community group is trying to support the older adults living in a small college town. When it comes to health, what should they focus on?

Three top health issues that threaten quality of life as we age

I don’t have time to research this in depth right now, so, for now, I am going to go with my hunches and personal experience.

My initial hunch is to suggest these three issues, when it comes to threatening quality of life while aging: [Read more…]