In 2018, the market for goods and services for the elderly exceeded $ 436 billion and continue to grow because of the increase in life expectancy. According to UN calculations , by 2050 the number of elderly will exceed 2 billion people. The demographic shift makes them the fastest growing consumer group in the world.
Developers adapt to the needs of the older generation. Simple interface gadgets measure blood pressure, blood sugar and pulse; sensors for the home record the leakage of gas and water; sound amplifiers and navigators for the visually impaired warn of obstacles on the way.
But besides health, older people have other important problems. For example, social isolation. More than 60% of people over 65 in the EU are widowed or widowed, divorced or simply lonely. Places in public nursing homes are not enough even in developed countries, the quality of their care is not always high, and private shelters are very expensive. And not everyone agrees to spend the rest of his life in such a place. Being alone is not just sad, but also dangerous to health – among lonely elderly people the risk of heart attack increases, they are subject to mental illness and even suffer from a cold more difficult.
To help older people get out of social exclusion, not to feel forgotten and not to lose touch with the outside world, manufacturers are developing products with technologies adapted to this age group.
Nearly half of people over 60 years old live with disabilities. They are very limited in movement and need care. In order to automate the social worker’s call-to-home service and organize care for the disabled and elderly people, the Russian startup “Close People” created a cloud service for social projects that develop social services in their city. In the mobile application, the user orders the service and sees online who has come to his relative. In 2016, “Close People” launched a franchise – the only one in our country in the field of social services, according to the developer.
Not everyone has the opportunity to hire a carer or look after their parents around the clock. Therefore, there is a growing market for robots that carry out small household tasks and are able to make a company for an elderly person. For example, Buddy , a companion with a cute design, knows how to make phone calls, talk and act as an organizer.
The European prototype of the GrowMeUp robot can not only communicate with its owner, but is also able to study its needs and habits over time, compensating for the degradation of the capabilities of older people, supporting and encouraging their activity and desire to remain independent and socially involved. Thus, GrowMeUp can continuously expand its knowledge of the owner and share it with other robots via the cloud.
For those who are frightened by a robot walking around the house, Elli Q will do . A device that looks like a lamp periodically offers the owner to have fun: turns on music, reminds you to walk, advises books. An alternative to Elli Q is any smart speaker. As shows the statistics, the number of users of such columns aged 65+ is increasing every year.
The virtual reality
Virtual reality is not only entertainment for gamers. With its help, people undergo rehabilitation after injuries or study the structure of the human body in universities. VR also provides many useful bonuses to the elderly and sedentary people. For example, the American Rendever helps them explore the world, and sensors track movement data to recognize the onset of dementia.
Another virtual space with great potential for seniors is Sansar . Guests of the universe can travel through time or even go into outer space. In this space, people with Parkinson’s can dance – and feel physical freedom. And it improves the emotional and physical condition. In addition, Sansar serves as a social network.
Finding new friends in old age is not an easy task. Older people gradually master Facebook and Instagram, but mostly not for the sake of dating, but to get news about the life of their relatives.
Technologically simple services are designed so that single pensioners can find volunteers who are ready to visit them. In America , the Papa app allows students to select single old people to help with cleaning, replenish food in the fridge, show how to add friends on Facebook and chat with relatives on FaceTime, or just chat. In Russia, one of the similar services – the mobile application of the charity foundation “Old Age to Joy” – collects information about single people in nursing homes. Volunteers choose a patient through this application to whom they can come to visit or communicate with them by correspondence.
Many elderly people have a free corner in the apartment / house, because their children have got their own families and moved. Silvernest service contains a base of elderly landlords who need communication and help around the house. In return, they offer a low price for housing.
In the cinema, museums, cafes, and just in the parks and on the streets of the city you will rarely meet older people: the environment is not adapted for them, does not take into account their needs, interests and opportunities. Therefore, many old people are locked in their one-on-one apartments with a TV or, at best, they are saved from isolation at a dacha. Perhaps it is digital services that will help many of them to spend time interestingly and profitably, to communicate, to find interesting places in the city, to travel, to gain new knowledge and even to start their own business. The niche of such services is free. This will be a great chance for a technology startup to do something in demand and useful.