Across the globe, better standards of care and greater access to health services mean that people are living longer. In 2018, for the first time, there were more people in the world over the age of 64 than children under five, according to the United Nations, and growth in the number of children is expected to plateau in the coming decades. Alongside such demographic changes, those who need care are starting to demand better, more innovative services than were previously offered.
The new generation of elderly care services needs to be digitally enabled. The youngest of the baby boomers are reaching 60-plus. Many are used to well-designed products, rapid service and technological innovation. Most will certainly have used tech throughout their working lives or will be regular users of social media: think tank Pew Research Center reported that the proportion of US adults over 65 who use social media was around 45% in 2021, up from only 7% in 2010.
But it's social isolation among the elderly that inspired the creation of Papa: based in Miami, the app connects vetted individuals – known as ‘Papa Pals’ – to older adults who need help, either with household tasks or just company. Papa Pals can work flexibly and are reimbursed for their time, including travel.
Nectarine Health, based in New York and Stockholm, has created a wearable device that detects falls and informs caregivers and family members of incidents and any changes in their loved ones' health.
Fear of something happening to an elderly family member can be a stressful distraction. San Francisco's Grayce helps companies build an employee benefit around elderly care, with the idea of reducing the amount of time employees need to take off to care for their loved ones.
It's important that companies allow those who actually need the care to have a say and co-create what their care experience looks like, rather than assuming what their needs might be.
Some businesses are beginning to do this: venture capital firm Alive Ventures has gathered together a collective of over-60s, who give feedback to brands offering products and services in the elderly care space. In paying attention to the real needs of older people, brands can ensure they're designing products and services that not only meet their care needs, but also their lifestyle aspirations.