Caring.com is headquartered in Silicon Valley, so we have a lot of technology enthusiasts around us. As yesterday’s hotshot tech entrepreneurs become today’s caregivers to their elderly parents, they often want to use their expertise to found companies creating high-tech products to help people overcome challenges associated with aging and infirmity.
As best I can tell, though, caregivers aren’t buying it.
Here’s why this leaves us scratching our heads. When we asked people in our Caregiver Journey survey last year “What are your caregiving challenges?”, here’s what they said:
Building an app to help someone take a bath is a really complicated challenge. Building an app to help someone pay bills, however, is something your average Silicon Valley entrepreneur can handle. It’s already possible to shop for groceries, manage finances, and get personal transportation from anywhere to anywhere –- all from your computer or smartphone.
I’m hosting a Round Table conversation on this topic at the American Society on Aging conference in Chicago this month –- join us at 4:45pm on Wednesday, March 22 –- and I’m hoping to hear your opinions. Here’s what I think:
- Lack of awareness – Most tech entrepreneurs rely on “buzz” rather than paid advertising for their early sales, and 55-year-old women — the bulk of caregivers in our culture — rarely “buzz” to each other about the latest technology.
- Lack of trust – I covered this in an earlier post, but many people of a certain age are reluctant to put themselves or their vulnerable elders at the mercy of strangers they found online. What happens when that Amazon Fresh delivery man finds out that an elderly lady lives alone at 8 Bay Avenue? Or that Uber driver has a confused gentleman in the back seat who isn’t sure which building is the doctor’s office?
- Lack of glamor/sizzle/marketing – Honestly, not many people want to admit they are too old for “regular” things so they need specialized “old people” things. Fifty- and 60-year-olds (and 70- and 80-year-olds) eagerly adopted the elegant “sizzly” iPads, just like their younger counterparts. But they’ve stayed away from the tablets designed for old people. I see way too many products positioning themselves as dumbed-down versions of the product for 30-year-olds, and that’s not really a message that makes me want to pull out my credit card.
What do you think? Come join the discussion at the Aging in America conference — our network gets a registration discount: use promo code PRES50 for $50 off your registration. Or post a comment on this blog post.