Aging

Tell Me Something I Didn’t Already Know About Aging

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I attended the recent NIC Fall Conference in Chicago that was focused on aging, eldercare, and senior housing and care properties.

The conference wrapped up with four interesting TED-like “NIC Talks” that delved into the theme, “Tell Us Something We Don’t Already Know About Aging.” Each presenter gave their perspectives on innovative approaches to technology, and how smart buildings and artificial intelligence (AI) could transform aging-in-place.Logo of NIC Talks

Listening to these talks made me realize how much technology and new ways of disrupting the aging and eldercare can ensure the health, wellness, and safety of our family and friends. After all, the dramatic growth of our elders contrasted with higher healthcare costs and decreasing caregivers means we must confront these issues now.

Below is recap of the four presentations with links to the videos:

The Building is Becoming the Caregiver

Bob Hillis, President and CEO at Direct Supply

Future senior living buildings will come alive and be active caregivers for patients.

Technology trends – mobile, AI, voice, and the Internet of Things (IoT) – and the integration into common products and systems around these homes, such as chandeliers and flooring, will enable today’s dumb structures to live and breathe data and help improve safety and reduce rehospitalizations.

For instance, smart chandeliers will be equipped with tuned LED lights that can adjust brighter or dimmer depending on the specific individual that enters a room. This is important for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s whose mood is directly affected by lighting. The chandeliers also possess air quality sensors to help control the HVAC systems, and will act as a smoke detector and fire device.

Watch the full talk at this link: https://youtu.be/9YNP78qCxMM

Capturing the Heartbeats of Daily Living

Susann Keohane, Global Lead Researcher, Aging Initiative at IBMIBM's Susann Keohand stands on the NIC Talks stage.

Every room in the home reveals unique insights about your daily activities – from sleeping to cooking to toileting – that can help keep you safe.

By leveraging a network of connected devices, sensors and AI-based systems, Susann says we can learn about individual patterns for sleeping, eating, exercising, cooking, bathing, and how often you connect with family, friends, and the community – all balanced with security and privacy.

Analyzing sensor data, correlating it with other datasets, searching for patterns, and identifying warning signals will result in enabling family and caregivers to more effectively monitor elders from afar and keep them safe and independent.

Watch the full talk at this link: https://youtu.be/QvfQoIE99OY

Interactive Companionship

Ted Fischer, VP for Business Development at Hasbro Toys

How do you create a new product for a new consumer that is difficult to market to, for which the category and aisle doesn’t exist?

Ted described how his team at Hasbro worked to create a new brand and line of products for elders to help bring joy and reduce loneliness.

After observing and speaking to seniors about their lives, desires and needs, they developed the Joy for All brand that provides interactive companionship in the form of animatronic dogs and cats. The animals have soft fur, tactile interaction, real sounds, and play patterns that are random (because of course cats never do what you’d like).

Watch the full talk at this link: https://youtu.be/z7fWeNnUOhw

The Power of the Weeble-Wooble

Dr. Joon Yun, Managing Partner and President at Palo Alto InvestorsPhoto of a Weeble Wobble.

The future of aging might actually be hiding in plain sight, according to Dr. Joon.

He has been studying homeostatic capacity, or the state of equilibrium and ability to maintain homeostasis. Nature has given humans the ability to self-center – like a weeble-wobble. However, as we age we lose the capacity to right ourselves quickly, such as recovering from injuries (or too many drinks), eating bad meals, or staying up too late at night.

His solution is resilience training, such as what a vaccination does to help prevent diseases or exercising to help lower blood pressure.

His prescription is for everyone to increase their dynamic range – and do the opposite every now and again – by alternating good sleep patterns with something exhilarating, mixing in a bag of Doritos, or taking time to stretch out your muscles.

Watch his full talk at this link: https://youtu.be/9dKUhyJ4TVg