The care of older adults reached numerous milestones in the United States in 2015: the 80th anniversary of Social Security, and the 50th anniversary of the passing of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act. Despite these accomplishments, the future for older adults holds tremendous excitement. Technological innovations continue to proliferate, and greater numbers of industries are focusing on a population segment that will control over 70% of disposable income by 2017, according to the World Economic Forum.
One business innovating for the elderly this holiday season is the toy company Hasbro. The company recently announced the launch of its brand specifically for seniors, Joy For All, and its first product line labeled Companion Pets. The first item, the Companion Pet Cat, is a lifelike feline that purrs authentically and responds to hugs, motion, and petting. In market research, Hasbro found that an interactive pet could alleviate risks associated with aging and improve interactions with caregivers and loved ones. They also concluded that the product line addressed loneliness among American seniors, felt by an estimated 43%. It is these seniors who are also at risk for increased rates of mortality, and mental and physical decline.
Inventors are imagining greater possibilities for the use of robotics to support the health needs of an elderly population. Robots such as Pepper have been used as household companions, and as aids for medication adherence, communication with medical provides and caregivers, and item retrieval. Today and in the future, these technologies will minimize loneliness and maximize connections to others to create a sense of purpose. Nonetheless, these technologies must be designed with and by older adults to ensure their needs and preferences are incorporated into the end product.
The need for creative solutions to care for an aging population is clear. As lives continue to lengthen, there are economic opportunities among populations that will live life very differently than previous generations. There are also concerns regarding the economic harms provided by workforce members pulling out to care for aging relatives. With this in mind, we must invest in our seniors and innovate now, so that the next 50 years can be as momentous as the past. As a start, the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Ageing and other leaders are exploring the impact of healthy aging and technology on the financial services sector to identify opportunities for improving the lives of the silvering population worldwide.
Do you know other original products for seniors? How do seniors you know utilize technology in their daily activities? Do you know of any other new innovations for senior companionship? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting at @VitalityUSA.
Source of image: Forbes