Fri07252014

Senior Lifestyles

New tech product aims to help seniors live independently


Courtesy of Lively
To ease isolation and encourage participation in social media, Lively created a wireless product for seniors and their caregivers.

Social media is a constant in the lives of the current generation of young adults, who have grown up with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and dozens of other products that allow them to share as much about their lives as they want. For the generation 75 years and older, the concept of sharing information about yourself was reserved only for best friends or confidants.

As we reach our later years, a major challenge is being physically and emotionally disconnected from friends and family. Older adults give up driving not because they want to, but because it often becomes unsafe. Social isolation becomes a real problem. For seniors, the concept of social media is often so foreign and the technology so confusing that they have not participated in the positive aspects of getting connected on the Internet.

An eye-catching product

A variety of products hitting the market are targeted to the elder generation. Having worked for many years in the technology sector and now in providing home-care services to older adults, I am often approached by entrepreneurs who want my input on their ideas and products. One such product caught my eye about a year ago. The founders really seemed to understand their target market but didn’t assume anything. They asked great questions. They conducted extensive market research.

Fast forward a year, and I met with folks from the San Francisco-based Lively (mylively.com) in my Los Altos offices to get a peek at their service. I was impressed with their thoughtfulness about their customers and many other aspects that go into providing a successful product to this market.

Lively isn’t exactly a social media service, but it does dip its toe into the sharing of information about oneself with others. It is a service that basically captures a few key data points about your activities of daily living and allows them to be shared with a loved one. The goal is to allow seniors to live independently at home.

The company supports this independence by affixing a small transmitter to a pill box, refrigerator door, chair or any other object in the home that is a proxy for healthful activity – eating regularly, taking medications on time, etc. It records the senior’s routine and transmits the data to a friend or loved one invested in monitoring the senior’s well-being. The beauty of Lively is that it protects your privacy, shares only a small bit of data and allows you passively to share the information without data entry, a smartphone or computer.

The company tested the service extensively and learned a great deal. The service works well, doesn’t require any kind of Internet connection and costs $19.95 per month. The medication-monitoring aspect of the service alone is well worth the investment. The product will be available from the Lively website beginning in late September, which marks the rollout to various retailers, home shopping networks and other outlets. It costs $149 and comes with two months of free service. There is no contract.

Lively is a small, inexpensive step in the right direction that uses today’s technology to help seniors remain at home as long as they prefer. It doesn’t try to do everything, but does these few things really well. I think the company will be successful if it continues to listen to its customers and takes evolutionary steps to provide a variety of services for an elder generation that can benefit from a little sharing of their lives with a limited set of friends or family.

Greg Hartwell is founder and CEO of Homecare California, a Los Altos-based in-home caregiving agency. He is a frequent guest speaker on elder-care issues. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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