Ali in the US - 1Ali Rogan, External Affairs Director, talks about a recent trip to Washington and New York, visiting Tunstall Americas and attending the Boomers Summit. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time in Washington and New York recently, finding out about the American aging and technology market. This is the first of three blogs focused on the US – I begin with the different generations of caregivers.

They have numbers and statistics for absolutely everything in the US. So I thought I’d share a few and explain the implications for the Connected Care and Connected Health market.

  • 10k Americans turn 65 every day in US. There will be 2bn seniors by 2050
  • 40m Americans provide unpaid care (plus the 5m paid carers)
  • 117m Americans are expected to need assistance by 2020 but number of caregivers will remain relatively stable at 45m
  • 2m American senior citizens are homebound

Some of these stats were taken from a fantastic new report “Caregiving Innovation Frontiers Jan 16”.  It’s well worth a read if you have the time.

Behind the numbers are the people. Caregiving is, of course, a huge issue for the baby boom generation or boomers (people born in the 1950s). 6 in 10 people are juggling work with caregiving and a lot of workers are searching the internet for caregiving issues during the week at lunchtime, with home and community based care being the joint second issue for boomers in a recent survey.

Boomers or Millennials? Who’s bigger?

What is also startling is that one in four caregivers is a millennial. Millennials, by the way, were born between 1980-1997 and are the biggest group – a massive 82m Americans and a third of the workforce – they are pretty stressed too with their big student loans, low paid jobs and the minimal prospect of getting a mortgage. But their relationships with their parents, along with their knowledge of technology and ease with the digital age means the millennials are a huge influence on the boomers.  So are we targeting the right people with our Connected Care messaging?

I’ve heard so much about boomers and millennials but where does that leave me? I’m an inbetweener, born in Generation X, and when I asked a very prominent speaker on the subject, she said she feels sorry for my generation – often the most stressed, working long hours, supporting older relatives and teenage children – what can we do?

I attended an AARP Caregiving Co-lab and was able to contribute to the debate. The AARP by the way is the American Association of Retired Persons and is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social welfare organisation with a membership of nearly 38 million over 50s in the States.

The new demands of the caregiver consumer

During the Co-lab we discussed the new demands of the caregiver consumer. Things like affordability, needing guidance and navigation of the system, loneliness issues and the ability to have respite were discussed.  Another big issue when it comes to technology is messaging – it seems the same negative perceptions exist throughout the world. We discussed that messaging has to be intergenerational and targeted or personal. It also has to take account of local preferences; for example, when it comes to telecare the the US market prefers a light grey pendant button, over the red one favoured in the UK.

So as an inbetweener, what can I do? According to the aforementioned report, “technology offers a key opportunity to deliver solutions to address current unmet needs. In fact, 67 percent of family caregivers want to use technology to monitor their loved one’s health and safety – but only one tenth are currently doing so.” So I guess my generation is lucky enough to see the potential of technology to help us as well as our loved ones.

Look out for my next blog which will cover TECS in America.