By Nina Dunn, Spector & Associates, 5/12/2011
In the coming years, Americans will face demographic changes that will fundamentally shift our healthcare system and the way we age. The sheer number of baby boomers approaching retirement age, their affluence and their more progressive view of technology all influence the development of scientific innovations that will enhance the quality of life for those who wish to age in place.
Today, family caregivers and even seniors themselves are searching for a complete elder care solution, and Ambient Assisted Living might be exactly what they are looking for. Already popular in Europe, this concept can help our seniors remain socially active and stay connected and independent for a longer time.
If you are not familiar with this term, Ambient Assisted Living, or AAL, is an elder care method where homes are equipped with intelligent technologies, communications platforms and remote services that promote wellness, engagement, learning and safety. AAL includes social care networks and telecare solutions. (View the conference page of the AAL Forum in Italy.) For example, user-friendly software installed on a computer or phone allows a senior to easily connect with family members, healthcare professionals or home care coordinators at any time they choose.
AAL technology also reminds seniors when to take their medication, and can help organize meetings with friends through a joint calendar. Motion sensors can turn on the lights when a senior enters a room, alert a family member if a senior did not get out of bed on time, and even call an emergency service if a senior is not responsive. These technologies applied for AAL are user-centric and can be adapted to the needs of the individual senior.
The Benefits of AAL
These innovative technologies provide distant family members the opportunity to remotely check on the well-being of their aging loved ones. Did they take their medication? Did they manage to get out of the bed and shower this morning? Is their blood pressure normal? With just a click of the button, the technologies can even ensure that windows and doors are locked.
An alliance with a company that produces aging in place technologies provides a rewarding marketing opportunity for elder care providers, particularly assisted living facilities and home care companies. Not only can this partnership enhance your brand recognition and give your company an innovative image, but it can help to reach a larger pool of prospective clients as well.
AAL can be viewed as a complementary service for current clients, or as a first step for seniors struggling to come to grips with needing outside assistance. Once the need for professional care arises, family caregivers will turn to elder care professionals like you to add other services into their loved one’s care plan. An affiliation with a technology company also offers you the chance to reach a previously untapped audience – tech-savvy seniors – through technology magazines and blogs.
Besides creating a positive image among your target audiences, partnering with companies that provide technologies for seniors can actually bring a new, profitable add-on line of service that does not require additional staff.
Some experts predict that age in place technologies will explode by 2020, when more than half of all baby boomers reach their retirement age and start searching for alternatives to conventional elder care options to make their savings last longer. Integrated into your business model these systems could guarantee strong, sustainable revenues for years to come.
There is a niche for a forward-looking business model that incorporates traditional professional care with innovative technologies that allow seniors to age at home. Start educating baby boomers through webinars and seminars about age in place technologies that your company offers along with traditional personal care services, and you may well begin seeing a steady increase in leads.
More and more family caregivers will choose elder care companies that offer a wide range of meaningful options. So don’t miss out.
Nina Dunn is a communications and media relations specialist at Spector & Associates, a New York-based public relations firm specializing in healthcare and technology. In her current role, Nina works with the agency’s elder care and pharmaceutical clients, helping them develop effective thought leadership campaigns and communications strategies. You can reach her at Nina@spectorpr.com.