Mason Professor Dubs Products for the Elderly “Nana” Technology

Posted: August 8, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lori Jennings

George Mason’s Andrew Carle, assistant professor in the College of Health and Human Services and director of its assisted living program, has given a name to the multibillion dollar industry serving the rapidly growing elderly population – what he, and now others, refer to as “Nana” technology.

In fact, the assisted living program, part of the Department of Health Administration and Policy, recently signed an agreement with the Mature Market Resource Center to establish annual “Nana” technology awards as part of a national competition recognizing the best new products and technologies for the elderly. The first “Nanas” are scheduled to be presented next year.

“This industry has exploded over the past few years with the aging of the baby boomers,” says Carle. “Technology has allowed for a greater quality of life for the aging than ever before, and this a trend that promises to continue.”

Carle specifically defines “Nana” technology as “technology designed, intended or that can otherwise be used to improve quality of life for the elderly.” Carle further defines five categories for the technologies that are being produced or developed by companies such as Intel, GE, Philips and Kimberly-Clark, among others:

  • Health products, such as medication dispensers designed to reduce errors
  • Safety products, such as bracelets worn by the elderly to track their movements and location
  • Cognition products, such as computer software programs that regularly quiz elderly residents or patients and send the data to a health care professional or family member
  • Lifestyle products that provide a convenience factor for the elderly, such as mailbox sensors that alert the user that mail has been delivered
  • Whole-house/whole-facility products that provide overall home monitoring and management

“This technology has the potential to serve the entire elderly population, whether living independently or in a community,” Carle adds. “The applications are endless, and we will continue to see the development of products designed to serve the industry now known as ‘Nana’ technology.”

Carle has more than 20 years of senior housing and health care management experience, including previous service as one of the first operations executives and vice president of business services for a national provider of assisted living services. Carle was also one of 15 executives nationally to be named to the Expert Panel on Assisted Living of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which developed the first national standards for the assisted living industry.

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