The proportion of the planet’s inhabitants over 65+ years old will nearly double over the next three decades growing from 12% to 22%. In absolute numbers, this age group will jump from 605 million to 2 billion over the course of half a century… a grey tsunami!. As people live longer, retirement planning as we know it is being replaced by longevity planning, a concept that requires holistic thinking from the individual, family and society. Retirement once meant leaving the workforce to pursue leisure activities for a limited period. However, today’s ageing population, with a drastically extended life expectancy, is preparing for a full life after age 65.
This presents both challenges and opportunities for companies and organizations that provide services to this ever-widening age group. Providers must pay attention to emerging needs and work to be the first to develop and provide new solutions.
Increased longevity forces us to redefine how we think about life after retirement. It has a number of phases. During the first phase, the retiree may be in perfect health and extremely active, maybe more active than before. They may travel and spend time with grandchildren. Interestingly, for the first time in history, 65 -75-year-olds are, en masse, caring for both their grandchildren and also their own ageing parents. Does this sandwich generation also require monitoring and assistance as they care for others? To a certain degree, yes.
Working with the ever-changing abilities and requirements of the sandwich generation presents a challenge to service providers. Serving this population’s needs over a long period of time and changing requirements is a challenge that requires tremendous flexibility. However, as people live longer, providers with the right mix of technology and services will be able to work with their customers for many more years. The value of a single customer can be drastically increased by starting them early and keeping them for longer.
The growing popularity of voice-enabled devices among the ageing is an important trend to watch, In the US alone, we expect that 8.2 million baby boomers will use smart speakers this year. The successful provider will provide voice-enabled solutions that accommodate the changing needs of their ageing customers. Responding to voice commands might be sufficient for some customers. Other ageing customers require more sophisticated tools that can summon help based on the tone of voice or upon detection of a scream or moan.
Technologies that support an active lifestyle, such as mobile connectivity and monitoring while at home and away, offer seniors independence and security as they age. Sophisticated fall detection/prediction is key. About 25 per cent of seniors fall at least once in a year, and more than 27,000 seniors die every year due to falls. Seniors may be unable to move after a fall. Fall detection combined with voice recognition software can be a lifesaver. Sophisticated systems that detect emergencies and call for help will be of great value to your ageing customers.
According to the World Health Organization, one of the biggest challenges is facilitating independent living for the elderly. Technology-Enabled Senior Care that enables a more active lifestyle can help meet this challenge.
As the grey tsunami approaches, customer needs are changing and opening new business opportunities. Successful providers will respond to the challenge by offering flexible, intelligent solutions.