‘Rotting In Place’

Laura Mitchell, who was one of the key people behind GrandCare Systems and now is a marketing consultant and healthy aging advocate, has written an interesting article on LinkedIn Pulse, now on her website, springing off an AgingInPlaceTech article by Laurie Orlov.  Like the latter’s article, it commented on the Washington Post profile of Prof. Stephen Golant, whose POV on ‘aging in place’ was mostly that AIP is oversold–that in many cases, it’s ‘rotting in place in their own homes’. It’s a highly provocative topic with equally provocative statements and Ms Mitchell does take him to the woodshed, as does Ms Orlov in a different way. Prof. Galant seems to take a more moderate tone in his book (publicity perhaps?), citing (in the Amazon summary) that “older people often must settle for the least imperfect places to live. They are offered solutions that are poorly implemented or do not respond to the totality of their unmet needs.” a statement with which this Editor finds it difficult to disagree.

This Editor will largely cite her previous LinkedIn comment with a few embellishments/edits: (more…)

Telecare helping Alzheimer’s patients live in the ‘connected home’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/140825141047-lively-pillbox-sensor-story-top.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]There’s life in telecare–it’s (finally) morphing into ‘connected home’. Is this ‘slope of enlightenment’ and ‘plateau of productivity’ time?  We haven’t had a spotlight on the part of telecare which is sensor-based behavioral monitoring, but here’s one that shines on not just one but four systems which indicates a big change in focus, long developing: SmartThings, Lively, BeClose and certified Grizzled Pioneer GrandCare Systems. CNN.com crafted an article out of a fairly obvious placement by the Alzheimer’s Association, but all to a good end.

Notably SmartThings by Physical Graph (just purchased by Samsung for a reported $200 million after raising $15.5 million through Series A, undoubtedly for their algorithms and in its health reach strategy versus Apple Health) pitches itself on its website as simple home automation, yet this article is all about older adult safety. Lively, which is depicted with an interesting connected pill dispenser (above) and BeClose carve their approaches close to caregivers.  All three are DIY systems. GrandCare remains the anomaly, with the highest (custom) home install price ($699 and up) but with a home tablet that engages the older person with virtual visits, music, pictures, daily updates and family/clinician connectivity. They were also first to move in this direction; this Editor recalls their pioneering in the home automation area with CEDIA, the home electronic design association.

After years, are we finally seeing a shift in consumer perception?  (more…)

Funding, granting and executive moves

Summer hasn’t been beach holiday time for some of the companies we’ve been following….Genetic testing for the masses 23andMe, only last fall in much hot water with FDA (but recently making nice–TTA 2 July), received a two-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes for Health (NIH). iHealthBeat….’Smart pill’ developer Proteus Digital Health received a Series G round of $52 million, adding to a June round of $120 million. Investors not disclosed, but Proteus currently has a blue-chip list including Novartis, Medtronic and Kaiser. BusinessWire….Pre/post-procedure education and recovery monitoring service VOX Telehealth received another $1.1 million round of angel financing primarily from original investors, preliminary to an institutional round of financing in 1st Quarter 2015. Release….HealthSpot Station is reinforcing its retail reach (more…)

Your Friday robot fix: We need robot caregivers

I can, and do, write prescriptions for her many medical problems, but I have little to offer for the two conditions that dominate her days: loneliness and disability. She has a well-meaning, troubled daughter in a faraway state, a caregiver who comes twice a week, a friend who checks in on her periodically, and she gets regular calls from volunteers with the Friendship Line.

It’s not enough. Like most older adults, she doesn’t want to be “locked up in one of those homes.” What she needs is someone who is always there, who can help with everyday tasks, who will listen and smile.

What she needs is a robot caregiver.

—Louise Aronson, MD

From a medical practitioner and geriatrician is a view on robots as not dehumanizing, but a source of companionship, comfort and ‘always on’ emergency assistance for older adults and the disabled, particularly those who live alone. Dr Aronson also advocates assistance robots for everyday tasks such as bed transfer, lifting and dressing assistance. Mentioned favorably: PARO the Japanese ‘seal’ robot, MOBISERV Kompaï, Sweden’s GiraffPlus but notable by omission GrandCare Systems, the GeriJoy tablet-as-pet companion and (perhaps too new) the JIBO ‘family robot companion’ [TTA 18 July]. She also makes the apt point that those of us who’ve spent most of our adult lives interacting with machines will be quite comfortable with robotic companions. The Future of Robot Caregivers (New York Times) Also Katy Fike PhD from the Aging 2.0 group takes a look in their blog at Dr Aronson’s insights as well as JIBO.

The ‘grey’ market is where it’s at for ‘quantified selfing’

Surprisingly in the tech-addicted (and young-skewing, based on subject matter) Gigaom is this short piece on how health tech companies are missing the boat by targeting the young, healthy fitness addict or plain addicted-to-the-data Quantified Self (QS) market, rather than those over 50 and their families. ‘Simple’ and unobtrusive are the keywords, especially for what the late and much missed MetLife Mature Market Institute termed the ‘old-old’–those over 80. Mentioned are home activity monitoring systems such as Lively, BeClose and GrandCare Systems supplanting the PERS pendant (Lifeline) and the additional alert capabilities offered by GreatCall/Jitterbug. (This Editor will also mention a new telecare system entering the European and Americas markets, Essence Care@Home, which premiered at Mobile World Congress 2014. More on this in the next few days.) What’s notable about the article is the emphasis on the market size (via expert Laurie Orlov): $2 billion now, ten times that in 2020. What’s incomplete about the article is no ‘look-ahead’ to how devices like smartwatches (and watch-like forms such as AFrame), sensor-based wearables which connect to smartphones–and sensor-equipped smartphones, tablets and even Glass-type devices with simple apps which can help with self-or group-monitoring, prompts for those with cognitive difficulties, and more. Worldwide, we are also running out of carers [TTA 24 April]. Who will crack the code on tech for seniors?

ABI Research surveys…telecare

It is refreshing to note a commercial research study that concentrates on straightforward home monitoring for the senior care market, a segment that doesn’t get the cocktail party chatter or anything resembling buzz.  ABI Research looks at eight home monitoring companies–BeClose, Care Innovations, GrandCare Systems, Healthsense, independa, Philips, pomDevices (Sonamba) and Tunstall Healthcare–and judges them on several analyses. On the Competitive Assessment, measuring product innovation as well as implementation, the three leaders were (in rank order) Healthsense, pomdevices (Sonamba), and GrandCare Systems. Both Healthsense and GrandCare are prominent ‘grizzled pioneers’ evolving their model considerably over the years; Sonamba is a tablet-based relative newcomer so low profile that we haven’t heard about them since their 2011 debut at CES. Whither Philips and Tunstall? (more…)