Sharing his passion for improving innovative products that are simple and effective for people (especially those that are hard-of-hearing), Bob and his teams are not just supporting how people communicate, they are helping people maintain their independence.
M.R. Rangaswami: Since your business specifically serves seniors in their homes, did you see any changes in how your service was used by your customers during the global pandemic?
Bob Rae: The ClearCaptions service helps a hard-of-hearing person use a phone, iPad or iPhone to continue to communicate with friends, loved ones and supportive services through captioning. Since most of our customers are seniors and as they age they can become socially isolated or lose independence due to potential hearing loss, we help restore connection and independence through captioning.
The pandemic was right at the heart of our mission. Lockdown caused seniors to isolate at home, which disconnected them from family, friends and support. During this period, ClearCaptions’ service usage was directly proportionate to the amount of lock-down or self-isolation happening in the country. As seniors became homebound, our service usage accelerated immediately, which was a direct measurement of our ability to fulfil our mission. The entire ClearCaptions team could directly see our mission fulfilled by helping seniors and hard-of-hearing individuals maintain connections with their friends, family and community. We could not have provided our services without support from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates our service.
M.R.: ClearCaptions has an interest in expanding services to seniors who live alone at home? Please share some of this vision and why ClearCaptions wants to expand services in this direction?
Bob: Through our experience with seniors over the past 10 years, we have recognized the ongoing desires of seniors to age in their own home, maintain social connections and minimize the support required by their caregivers. We believe that we are uniquely positioned to reach this growing demographic because we are delivering a powerful technology to this population that requires our support in hardware, software, call center services, marketing and sales. Our mission today is Connection and Independence and we feel that through an expanding set of technologies implemented in just the right way, we can gain senior adoption and enable our users to live in their home longer, safer and in many ways, reduce care support required during these later years.
Today, there are many devices and applications available, but they lack continuity and ease of use for seniors. We were not the first company able to make a phone, deliver a caption or take a service call, but we are one of the few companies that has been able to provide before, during and after customer service to seniors. It is vital not only to show our customers the benefit of ClearCaptions, but that we are there for them during installation, training and ongoing use of the product, ultimately changing seniors’ lives through ease of use and adoption. We believe that we can continue to fulfill this mission with more technologies and continue to change the lives of our customers for the better.
M.R.: What is the potential for the senior technology market as the baby boomers 71.6 million in the U.S. alone continue to age?
Bob: The key statistic that caught my eye in an AARP white paper titled “The Aging Of the Baby Boomer and the Growing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers,” was the ratio of caregivers to seniors requiring care as boomers age into their 80’s. In 2010 the ratio was approximately 7 family caregivers to each person over the age of 80 requiring care. By 2030, that ratio is expected to fall to 4 to 1 and by 2050, reach 3 to 1. The pandemic has also increased the desire for seniors to age in their homes and not in a facility with others. This raised our interest in tools and services that help seniors age in place.
Over the past 10 years, ClearCaptions has helped improve independence with our service to improve the ability for a senior to live alone at home by extending the years that they are able to use the telephone and continue to provide more of their own care. It is clear that more services are needed now and in the next 20 years to help offset this care gap and provide technology and service solutions to allow seniors to age independently in place. We are dedicated to helping seniors live independent lives and provide solutions that help seniors age in place.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com