More than 87 percent of people 65 years or older want to stay in their current home as they age, according to a 2014 AARP survey. Among them: Dan Deninger and his wife, Cindy.
The couple wants to avoid an assisted living or nursing facility, for the sake of comfort and cost. They’ve embraced a trend called aging in place. But the goal became difficult when Dan, 75, developed health issues, like loss of sight from macular degeneration.
Making the Connection
The disease complicated his already tenuous grasp of smartphones and computers, meaning added anxiety when he was alone in their Oceanside home. But he’s feeling more connected with Lisa, new software from Cuida Health that operates through existing smart speakers.
With only their voice, users can email and text. The app serves up reminders on community happenings, medicine and nutrition. It’s also something of a companion, in that the app can hold short conversations.
“This is nice because all I have to do is talk to it,” said Dan. “I’m able to easily contact grandchildren now.”
He appreciates the app’s humorous barbs, and that it pauses while he collects his thoughts when dictating a message. Before Lisa, he felt isolated, limited to TV and a landline.
The app put Cindy’s mind at ease when she traveled to Chicago.
“It’s personalized for him,” she said. “It asks if he’s eaten something or taken medication, if he’s exercised.”
The couple believe it will be a hit with a wider senior audience. They participated in a four-month pilot study of the platform and plan to keep using it.
“We have a strong commitment to one another so we’ve decided we’re going to stay here as long as we can. And we’ll just watch out for each other,” Cindy said.
Laurie Orlov, an analyst and founder of Florida-based Aging in Place Technology Watch, said Cuida is smart to piggyback on the success of smart speakers.
“I’m not convinced we need more hardware,” she said, but added the voice-activated market is growing more competitive.