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

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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…]

Families Caring for an Aging America: a key report just released by the National Academies

caregivingcover_rgbAt last. Last week the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM, formerly known as the Institute of Medicine) released a report on my very favorite topic: family caregivers of older adults.

The official title is “Families Caring for an Aging America.” Hence this report is indeed specific to caregiving for older adults, defined in this report as aged 65 or older. (In comparison, last year’s Caregiving in the US 2015 report considered a broader range of caregiving recipients.)

So if you have any interest — personal or professional — in the families and friends who are helping older adults, this report is a must read. The full report also addresses the role and potential of newer technologies, especially in Chapter 4.

As with many NASEM reports, the main report page provides the following:

Some data highlights

I haven’t read the full report yet, but here are some interesting data highlights I’ve come across so far:

 

Statistics on how many older adults are getting help. These seem to be mainly drawn from 2011 data. fig-2-1-older-adults-getting-assistance

  • 6.3 million older adults (17% of those age 65+) received help with household tasks and/or “self-care” (meaning ADLs such as bathing, toileting, dressing, eating, or mobility).
  • An additional 3.5 million older adults received help due to having dementia.

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