Aging in Place Technology- Analog First!!

by Louis on February 9, 2011

Blasphemy you say! I have been working up to this post for a while. A conversation with tech savvy aging entrepreneur Berry Brunk gave me a good opening.

1. Social Networking sites are like bulletin boards. They are even called bulletin boards. Social Networking puts the old grocery store notice board into electronic format. They are not new ideas. Analog first.

2. In the movie, The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg gets it when he makes the site mimic or represent key social activities that are already going on. Analog first.

3. I recently spent time with Graceful Transitions operations director Doug Pierce. His background is software. He thought that would be the value he brought to this start up. It took a couple years to begin thinking about the software though, because software overlays the business systems. The software does not drive. Analog first.

Though the CAST and AgeTek folks are gung-ho and passionate, technology will not lead the way to Aging in Place.

Technology is a tool that facilitates. We need to imagine and build the relationships, the business case, the infrastructure for Aging in Place before the tech products and tech folks will have the defined relationships that make them viable and helpful businesses. Analog first.

Laurie Orlov, founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch gets it. Many of her posts refer to the range of services, home remodeling, caregiving and other elements of full featured Aging in Place.

Longevity and Aging in Place may be new but they are still subject to the ‘laws of gravity’ so to speak. The way our modern world works the technologies will develop in lock step with newly forming human and business relationships.  Technology? Sure. Analog first.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Radsliff February 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Although the moniker of the Aging Technology Alliance may make you think otherwise, relatively “inglorious” product and service providers such as bathroom remodelers, geriatric care consultants, contractors and installers also make up the membership of AgeTek. Like it or not, technology is providing some new solutions for aging in place that were not available otherwise. But of course, the selection and installation of said solutions is accomplished by PEOPLE who are decidedly analog (at least for now).

The Aging Technology Alliance ( ) focuses on the business success of its members, not technology. It endeavors to provide information to consumers who are seeking different solutions to problems they encounter helping their parents age in place. So, since business is just an analog activity conducted by people, we have no argument that analog comes first (but unfortunately “AAA” was already taken – so you’ll just have to get used to the Aging Technology Alliance). – Peter Radsliff, AgeTek chairman


Laurie Orlov February 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Netflix, Amazon, eBay and Craigslist all reinforce the ‘analog first’ idea. They also are stellar examples of deeply understanding a process and the convenience factor of online, then iterating versions over time to create an electronic variation that nearly but (thankfully not completely) obliterates the analog version.


Peter Radsliff February 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm

If you would indulge one more comment, now with me wearing my Presto CEO hat. I would offer that Presto understands “Analog First” better than most technology companies in that our interface to the senior is 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper. It doesn’t get more easy, or “analog” than that. : ) — Peter Radsliff, CEO, Presto Services Inc.


Majd Alwan February 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I agree that analog is first. But digital brings significant advantages including bringing the bulletin board to you (your PC, iPAD, Smart Phone and even your TV), something the “Analog” supermarket version could not do.
While CAST is enthusiastic about the potential of appropriate technologies, in terms of providing relevant information in a timely manner to help caregivers assess needs and deliver/coordinate services efficciently and cost-effectively, it has never even implied that technology would replace caregiving, or other Analog processes.
The introduction of technology, automation or digital “tools” presents an opportunity to take a careful look into our Analog processes to see how we can restructure or rearrange them in a way that takes full advantage of what the Digital world can offer so that we can get more efficiencies.
I am not advocating for Digital over Analog. We live in a world that is naturally Hybrid, and humans are great at processing both Analog and Digital types of information. There is doubt that Digital is on the rise and is invading our lives, whether we like it or not.


Charlie Hillman February 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Well, life is analog so certainly analog came first.
I wonder if Louis still uses a sliderule – talk about analog.
Or maybe a Polaroid Land camera.
The notion that aging in place is a new concept is perhaps the real culprit. The first wheel chair designed was almost bc. Mankind has been modifiying homes to accomodate seniors centuries before the first semiconductor.
The target will always be analog. I think most of the the good folks at CAST and AgeTek get that.
Digital tools that mimic analog while obliterating time and distance to accomodate human relationships may not drive the business model, but they will shape what is possible.
All that said, I do get what Louis is talking about. My favorite example is those who say “a heart is like a pump” when the more accurate statement is “a pump is like a heart”.


Laura Mitchell - GrandCare Systems February 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Nothing in life is really a new idea – it’s just all about presentation! Regarding Social Networking being like a bulletin board, yes that is true…but it really isn’t about ONE grocery store bulletin board. What Social Networking has done is removing time and space from the mix. When you post online it would be like posting to every single store bulletin board IN the World all at one time for all to see…so really, much more effective & convenient.

What the Aging Technology Alliance is trying to do is to get a bunch of us together so we can effectively market, sell and afford to compete against the market giants! It’s really like a Chamber of Commerce for our types of companies. Clearly selling a remote monitoring system (it’s just about taking care of parents – obviously not a new idea – but the method is!) is different than selling a grab bar…why? Because people know what a grab bar is…you don’t have to educate them first on what it is, how it works, etc. It would be nice to get to the point where everyone knows what technologies are available and how to use them, but until that happens – the alliances formed will help us to educate across the board – on how technologies can be used to help individuals “age in place” (along with home modifications, care services, etc).

I wanted to send you my thoughts in a telegram, but since I didn’t want to wait that long, I opted for posting it here instead :)))))

Thanks!!! Laura Mitchell


Bruce Martin February 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I think all of us on the technology end will agree it is just one piece of the puzzle. But like any puzzle piece you have to pick it up, get a good look at it and understand it to see where it fits. Every puzzle is unique and our mission at Home Care Technology is to make consumers aware of the options and how technology can supplement their unique life and care plans. It is not about the technology but about helping people meet their needs. Aging is not new, but what is new is people are finally getting aggressive about finding better ways to do it.


Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: