Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are Seniors Ready to be Plugged In?

You've probably noticed that many people are "plugged in" to their IPods, cellular phones, or other communication and entertainment devices. You've probaly also noticed that these people are generally younger; seniors seem more likely to have hearing aids in their ears than ear bud speakers.

Now a company called LinkedSenior has come along to get us all connected. I've never seen the devices, but apparently the idea is to provide Linked Senior Players to residents of senior residences, where they can then connect to a central kiosk to download music, audio books, talk shows, cooking lessons, and/or anything else we might want to listen to. Here is the basic product information:

"The player: The Linked Senior Player is simple and straightforward to operate; it has five large tactile pushbuttons and provides excellent sound quality.

"The station:
The Linked Senior Kiosk is designed with ease-of-use for older adults in mind. Its operating system and its peripheral equipment have been carefully tailored to meet the needs of older adults.

"The content: The current selection contains about 63,000 audio pieces and is continuously updated with audio books, talk shows, radio shows, music, audio emails, news, cooking lessons, games and more. "

The mission of Linked Senior is as follows:

"Linked Senior was founded with the goal of creating a world in which the life in senior communities is enhanced through better access to entertainment. This new service revolutionizes how the 60+ spend their time and helps facilities provide quality activities to their residents. By opening up their everyday settings to the world and fostering social communities, Linked Senior provides seniors a mean to stay active and connected."

I'm sure that the developers of these devices are serious about offering entertainment for seniors (as well as serious about making money), but I have my doubts about the success of this project. Perhaps the idea of special services for seniors still distresses me a bit, a carry-over from the time I refused to consider myself old. I'm sure the developers are younger people. Are they right in seeing a need for such a service?

I have my doubts. Speaking only for myself, I can say that I have no desire to shut out the world to listen to "canned" music or whatever, at least as long as I can listen to recordings and read real books. I'm reminded of those science fiction ear radio devices designed to keep the population from thinking. See Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. We already have high definition TV, AM/FM radio, CD and DVD players, and 24-hour programming everywhere, not to mention films in theaters and on rentable DVD's.

I may be old-fashioned, but I can keep very busy reading, writing, thinking, and even watching TV. Perhaps the Baby Boomer generation has grown up in a world of personal electronic devices and will be ready to embrace the Linked Senior system when their time comes, but for those of us who grew up in a different era, I don't see the value of such a system. (And won't those Boomers have their own computers and listening devices to bring with them into retirement?)

What do you think?

For more information, go to http://www.linkedsenior.com/.
For a press release, go to http://www.prlog.org/10277516-entertainment-for-senior-communities-retirement-communities.html


Anonymous said...

Marlys, My immediate reaction to this is, Oh, No! If I end up in a senior residence (nursing home?), I think I will crave SILENCE. (That's often the case for me now!) I might be looking for ear phones that guarantee this. (I'm 66 years old, not quite a Baby Boomer.)
--Pat (Ann Arbor)

Linked Senior, Jean said...

Hello Seniorwriter,

Thank you for mentioning us in your blog, we appreciate that people take the time to talk about us!

As you may have gathered, we’re quite passionate about enhancing lives in senior communities, one of our founders actually wrote his thesis at Georgetown University which can be found here: http://catalog.library.georgetown.edu/search/o?SEARCH=191868335

We actually have done extensive research and are supported by experts in the field of low vision, audiology, healthcare, senior housing (please contact us for more details), all that work has led us to believe that there is a need for adapted and personalized solution for our seniors. It is after more than two years of development orchestrated with the help of many seniors and healthcare professionals that we decided to launch our service for this underserved population.

We all can and want to remain somewhat busy, the point is a lot of residents cannot, either because of impairments or just because the community in which they live do not offer personalized or adapted activities and programs. This is one of the reasons why there are so many regulations about personalized activities and one to one requirements in senior healthcare. Boomers will all have computers and electronics devices; these will have to take into account some impairment (try putting an ipod in the hands of a 72 years-old) this is where Linked Senior steps in.

Finally, none of our content is “canned” and most of it actually comes from trusted and well know sources that we all use daily such as NPR or other major media outlets– same goes for the music, the books, the travel guides, the languages lessons and all of our content. When it comes to your reference to Bradbury’s work, another good example would have been Orwell’s work – but our product actually helps people have access to more content and more choice they presently have. Doing this provides them with agency over the way they fill in their day and pushes them to think and develop themselves intellectually.

I hope this will give you a better idea of what we do and why we already have very happy customers. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, we can be found here: http://www.linkedsenior.com or here: +1(888) 577-1889

Thanks again for your interest in Linked Senior and congratulations on your great blog!


Jean, Linked Senior

Ritergal said...

My 96-year-old mother-in-law would be a prime candidate for this service. She lives in a continuing care facility, still independent for a bit, but she can no longer read due to macular degeneration, and her hearing in about half gone.

Presumably this download device that would let her sit and listen to books, amplified enough for her to hear them, would be a perfect solution. Would she use it? She won't even use the very old t.v. remote that has only an on-off button and channel buttons!

My 88-year-old dad doesn't need it. He lives alone in a house and spends all day at his computer e-mailing jokes and comics to let everyone know he's still alive, or using his digital camera to shoot digital pictures of squirrels and birds outside the one-way mirror he had installed in his kitchen window. Then he Photoshops the pictures and e-mails them around between jokes. He keeps a cell phone in a holster on his belt in case he's fallen and can't get up.

These two oldsters are at opposite ends of the tech spectrum, and neither would use this kiosk. But it is an interesting idea.