The University of Louisville’s Trager Institute each year hosts its Optimal Aging Conference to unite people who work in (or adjacent to) health care with academics, older adults and others under the shared belief that aging is an opportunity. The conference gives people the opportunity to share ideas and inspiration about how we can improve, integrate and innovate the aging experience. 

The 2019 conference, which took place June 9-11 in Louisville, featured more than 30 presentations on aging-related topics, ranging from person-centered care and social isolation to tech innovation and age-friendly business practices. Among them was myFamilyChannel Founder and CEO Todd Smith.

“I was honored to be a part of this year’s event alongside many of my colleagues and peers in the Louisville aging care scene,” he said. “It was great hearing from so many people who are knowledgeable about the issues affecting older adults. The Optimal Aging Conference is always an incredible learning opportunity.”

Todd’s discussion focused on easing the learning curve for older adults who might not be familiar or comfortable with certain technologies. During the presentation, titled “Never Blame The User: Technology Design for Older Adults,” he shared myFamilyChannel’s mission to reduce social isolation and loneliness in the aging population through a technology experience that is intuitive and non-threatening, and highlighted the many ways technology can improve lives.

He also addressed how technology can be intimidating to people who did not grow up using computers or smartphones, and how user interface can act as a barrier for older adults approaching a new technology. This “digital disparity” marginalizes older users, resulting in ageism in the digital realm.

To ensure myFamilyChannel avoided this all-too-common pitfall, we set out to learn how older adults think and feel about technology. For three years, we talked and listened to residents in local assisted living facilities in order to design a user interface just for them. For us, the solution was to design a digital experience for analog natives – by using the TV as a portal.

As we continue to grow and progress, we were thrilled to share our journey with attendees at the Optimal Aging Conference.

“Technology innovation is essential for creating communities that allow people to flourish as we age. As such, we were thrilled for product innovators, such as myFamilyChannel, to join us at the 2019 Optimal Aging Conference,” said Anna Faul, Ph.D., Executive Director for the University of Louisville Trager Institute. “Successful strategies that help us age optimally will have to be fully in-tune with both the needs and preferences of older adults and their families – insight that technology innovators deeply understand.