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Summary:

A report from the AARP shows that as Baby Boomers age, the number of potential caregivers will dramatically decrease. Policy changes are need to address the shortage, but technology could make a difference too.

elderly

Baby Boomers may be stepping up now to care for aging parents, but when they’re the ones who need the help, there might not be enough people to provide it.

According to a report released Monday from the AARP Public Policy Institute, over the next 20 years, as boomers get into their 80s, the number of potential caregivers will drop dramatically. In 2010, there were 7.2 possible caregivers (people aged 45 to 64 years old) for every person over the age of 80. By 2030, the AARP projects that ratio will fall to four to one and, by 2050, they expect it to reach less than three to one.

Sure, the Kurzweilians among us might argue that the approaching Singularity and the melding of machine and man could make caregivers less necessary.  But experts predict that a dearth of family caregivers will result in higher costs for society, as people become more likely to land in nursing homes and other institutions.

“It’s a wake-up call for aging boomers,” said Lynn Feinberg, a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute and an author of the report, told the Washington Post. “We’re really moving toward an uncertain future as . . . relying on our family and friends to provide long-term care isn’t going to be realistic anymore.”

Policy-oriented changes, such as better support for caregivers and more affordable home care options, are a key part of the solution, Feinberg told the Post.

But technology that enables remote monitoring, early disease detection, better care coordination and other services could make a difference, too.

Neurotrack, for example, says it can identify patients at risk for developing Alzheimer’s years before the onset of the condition. There are also sensor systems like the “magic carpet” developed by GE and Intel that monitor seniors’ activity and then predict and detect falls. Meanwhile startup Gerijoy offers a tablet-based mobile app that gives seniors virtual companionship to reduce depression and potentially diminish dementia.

Entrepreneurs tend to be young and they also tend to “scratch their own itch,” so to speak. So it’s not surprising that there aren’t as many senior-care startups as there are companies launching services for twenty-somethings looking for easier ways to socialize and shop. But, encouraged by the AARP and the rare investor without a youth bias, as well as the rise of digital health in general, more startups (from young and old founders) are taking on the estimated $3.5 trillion boomer market.

  1. Better technology is good and will help address but is trumped by ability to remain healthy physically and mentally well into your 80′s or else this situation as you outlined is a ticking time bomb.

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  2. After watching my father mentally and physically deteriorate from Alzheimers, new innovations such as Neurotrack are a blessing.

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  3. Michael Sinsheimer Tuesday, August 27, 2013

    Home health technology and monitoring will play an increasing role with new technology coming to the foray to enable people to live their lives at home more and more with less reliance on assisted living and nursing homes over time in my opinion. This is more comfortable for those that do it and also less costly to the system.

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  4. Senior Care Society has a FREE care coordination tool called the family portal. It is easy to set-up and helps manage appointments, collaborate on care and even store important documents from any web browser.

    You can find it at http://www.seniorcaresociety.com/content/portal.html

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  5. Stay-in-Touch is one tool to help your aging parent stay in her own home longer. Our claim to fame is to offer considerable functionality without the aging parent having to touch the screen. Family Pictures, Medication reminders, Videos and even Skype all without any intervention on her part. So it is entirely without a learning curve. It just happens.

    What the article writes about is real, and many of us know the stress of choosing between a visit to Grandma or a quiet evening at home. Using electronics in a sympathetic and respectful way can improve the lifes of both the parent and the caring children.

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  6. Ajay Pal Singh Thursday, August 29, 2013

    At Second Light, we are making solution for elderly to make their life better.
    see 2nl.co for more

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  7. Despite advances in technology intended to help us live longer, healthier lives, or to live more independently as we grow older, eventually our health *will* fail, and we will all face decline. What is technology doing to actually empower our most vulnerable citizens – those who are frail, chronically ill, or at the end of life? We need better support for caregivers and more affordable home care options, sure, but we also need tools that actually inform and educate all of our citizens and help them to form, document and communicate their medical treatment wishes if they ever need emergency/critical/end-of-life care and can’t effectively communicate. There are only a handful of companies addressing this problem – and even fewer companies that are doing it using technology – and they are all being completely ignored by AARP, and other organizations that are supposed to be advocating on behalf of seniors. Hopefully, the boomers will step up like they always have and demand change and true empowerment that goes all the way to the end of our lives.

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  8. This is a problem that affects all of us, whether we realize it or not. Very excited to be part of the innovation in this space so that when it comes time for my own parents to go through some of these challenges, it’s a bit better.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this information. Technology has revolutionized the way we live. Technology has made a lot of things simpler. We can connect to person living overseas in real time and can get in touch with them. Technology has lot to offer to all age groups from a newborn to an elderly person. Each one of us can get associated with the technology.

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