Companies and investors are waking up to the potential of technology to assist both older people, wherever they live, and families to keep in touch, live more safely and to compensate for impediments created by physical or cognitive conditions. Ozy, an online news aggregator new to this Editor, notes the $5 trillion annually that boomers and older adults spend in what’s termed the ‘new old-age economy’ (AARP has previously termed it the ‘longevity economy‘) and that there’s money in tech solutions to their problems. Examples: the Lift Labs [TTA 1 Oct 13] stabilizing food utensil that cancels out most active tremors (as in Parkinson’s) while eating; Caremerge which has EHR, care coordination and secure messaging features for the care team in long-term and transitional care, but also connects families with a smartphone app and residents with reminders; GeriJoy [TTA 3 July 14], a tablet that combines an interactive pet avatar/companion with engagement, reminder and education tools for older and cognitively impaired adults.
While we’ve noted many developments along similar lines over the past ten years, interest and financial backing is aligning. AARP has its annual Health Innovation50+ LivePitch event on 14 May in Miami, which generates press interest and possible interest in backing due to the participants (but no prize money). Lift Labs was purchased by Google X last year. Caremerge is in 125 communities and is backed by GE Ventures, senior housing funding powerhouse Ziegler and Ziegler VC arm Link-age [TTA 1 Aug 14]. GeriJoy has been featured developed considerably in its focus and offerings yet is still in angel funding. Whether for ‘aging in place’ or in longer-term care facilities, these represent a step forward; what is still nonexistent for this market is a critical mass of products and services with MAYA–most advanced yet acceptable, in Raymond Loewy’s dictum. (Where are you, now that we really need a Design Genius?) The New Old-Age Economy