Today’s technology entrepreneurs are rapidly responding to the many market opportunities for seniors and their caregivers, such as managing their health, living independently and maintaining family and social connections. Yet many technologies that come to market were not developed in collaboration with seniors and go on to fail because the promised functionality more often just produces frustration.
Hebrew SeniorLife senior living community residents were part of that solution as they developed a whole host of new technology-driven platforms, apps, sites and devices aimed at improving the lives of seniors and their families at this weekend’s LeadingAge HackFest at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
NewBridge on the Charles resident Jerry Zimmerman was a member of the winning Team Technologia that developed Momentum, an application that empowers adults to improve, measure and track their physical abilities, including balance, gait and range of motion, with an affordable smart phone.
“It was an exciting intergenerational activity that brought the next generation to apply their talents and imagination to making life for the aged better,” said Jerry Zimmerman. “I found that a team, unknown to each other, could cooperate in defining and solving a real world problem in a day-and-a-half.”
Jerry continued, “It was amazing to be selected in a nationwide competition by a distinguished panel of judges from government, academia and finance. For me, it was exhilarating to bring my own approach to mentoring the team. In short, it was a blast.”
According to Jerry’s teammate and mobile developer Nathan Fennel, “Jerry was our barometer and our reality check. He was very real about his feedback and his approval for a tool that could help people avoid falls. It was his confirmation for our team that we were on the right track in developing this app.”
Jack Satter House residents Don and Nancy Libby also were winners. Don’s team, Technology for Living, won the People’s Choice Award at the LeadingAge Conference in Boston earlier this week with their invention of a phone app called “Knock Knock,” that would connect affinity groups to increase isolated senior’s socialization. Their team, The New Gold, won second place for the invention.
“The contributions made by the members of the council of elders has a significant impact on the tools that are developed and on their teammates,” said LeadingAge HackFest organizer and gerontologist Juliette Kerlin. “It's wonderful to see how misconceptions are quickly replaced by a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration.”
A total of ten Hebrew SeniorLife senior living community residents participated in HackFest in addition to Jerry, Don and Nancy. Marian Weissman, Mimi Katz, Lev Igolnkov and Les Ullis from Center Communities of Brookline also participated, as well as Ed Goldstein and Jeanne and Leo Stolbach from NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham.
LeadingAge is a national association encompassing the entire field of non-profit aging service providers with over 6,000 members including Hebrew SeniorLife.