A recent McKnight’s Long-Term Care News article highlights why it’s so important to involve older adults in technology design decisions, and experts at LeadingAge CAST have joined an effort to do just that.
Why seniors need to be in the loop about technology” shares the ways that Richard Caro, co-founder of Tech-enhanced Life, PBC, has been engaging older adults to help with tech development.
Caro, a former physicist, told McKnight’s he was inspired several years ago after talking with a 92-year-old woman who said she missed “being useful.” He discovered that other older adults felt the same way, and he formed Longevity Explorers. These meetings of groups of older adults take place in the San Francisco Bay Area and Providence, RI. In some, participants discuss tech developments and challenges, and in others they give input to companies that are developing new products.
Groups might discuss voice-activated virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft that enable them to keep their independence—and even the usability of jar openers.
The article points to Caro’s writings and a belief that technology can help seniors to live longer and function at a higher level for longer than they could otherwise. CAST shares this belief and has advocated for user-centered design of technology, and engaging both older adults and caregivers in designing, refining, and evaluating technology solutions from inception. 
To learn more about Caro’s work, please see the MIT Technology Review article “Why are products for older people so ugly?

CAST Leaders Contribute to Medication Management Research

LeadingAge CAST Executive Director Majd Alwan, Ph.D., and Senior Director Scott Code have joined the effort, serving on the Medication Adherence Tools Team for Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. Together, they contributed to Automatic Pill Dispensers: Hands-on Evaluations.
That research was similar to the process used to develop the CAST Technology Selection Tools and complements CAST’s existing tool by addressing the usability of the most popular consumer-facing products. The team researched all of the automatic pill dispensers they could find on the market, acquired all of them that met the initial screening criteria, and did an intensive, hands-on, comparative evaluation. The results discuss the differentiating features that seemed most important.
At the end, the team says it is too simplistic to talk of the "best automatic pill dispenser,” but that it is definitely appropriate to talk about the "best pill dispenser for a specific individual or life situation."
If you are considering medication management resources for your organization, please see the CAST Medication Management Selection Tool, which will soon be updated to incorporate and reference the joint work on consumer-facing products. It can help you choose the best products to meet your needs.