We live in a customer-first world where each day newer smarter devices are unveiled, promising to make life easier. The new-age smart homes, hospitals, and workplaces come packed with products that enable intelligent automation, efficient communication, and better security.
Increasing aging populations across many different countries necessitate additional support and care. With increased life expectancy, we will see a dramatic rise in the aging population resulting in a greater need for disability support and healthcare services. Statistics reveal that 16% of the global population will be over the age of 65 by 2050, calling for an action plan on issues of elderly health, nutrition, and housing. Source
Japan is the world’s second-largest healthcare market, with the highest percentage of the elderly population. Reports state that around 9 million people will be staying alone in Japan by 2040, creating a need/market to design innovative products and solutions to combat loneliness and enhance peace of mind. With an estimated 38% of the total population over the age of 65 by 2050, the tech sector in Japan needs the most viable innovations through AI and VR to ease the burden on family members and institutional care. Source. Not only is this a multibillion market, but also the senior population is growing 20% every 10 years.
Challenges the pandemic brought along for the elderly and their caregivers:
The outbreak of Covid-19 saw an unprecedented impact on the well-being of the aging population. The elderly, especially with pre-existing health conditions were at higher risk across the globe. Care homes, due to higher concentration of elderly were worse impacted. Research suggests that ~35% of all COVID-19 deaths in the USA, occurred in long-term care facilities. Source
The year saw an increasing trend of “shared living” where the parents and the children reside under one roof, which was a dream come true for the elderly. But on the other side of the coin, the COVID crisis gave birth to a new trend of remote working or famously called work from home, which had put a lot of stress on the millennial caregivers to handle both their professional and caregiving roles. A demographic of the so-called “Sandwich Generation” a generation of middle-aged adults (typically between 30-55 years of age) who care for their aging parents were adversely affected by the pandemic. Though, there has been a relief from financial pressures like costly home-nursing facilities, managing remote office work along with caregiving is now a new challenge for caregivers.
Technology making in-roads to the lives of the elderly, and the primary caregivers:
With an increased emphasis on well-being and health, our little abode is gearing up to meet the special needs of the elderly. Many start-ups, primarily from the Japan & US markets were developing gadgets that will help the elderly to age gracefully and lead a dignified life. The 21st century has seen many changes in the way seniors lead their sunset years. Interestingly, we see the elderly bravely accepting the challenge to live independently, getting smarter in their self-management skills, and picking up new passions and hobbies. More and more seniors are seeking to adapt to new technology that will allow them to live independently at home and delay assisted living solutions.
Living independently has its challenges, this means regular monitoring for chronic diseases, timely reminders for medicine, increased doctors’ visits. The technology companies are motivated to introduce products and platforms to address these core issues.
Technology for the elderly, unveiled at CES 2021:
From high-tech wearables to voice-assisted home robots and round-the-clock health-monitoring devices, CES 2021 saw it all. Major tech companies seized the opportunity to showcase innovative products that trigger a real revolution in elderly care living and assistance in the more networked, remote, and digital world.
The most innovative product that wowed the audience, at the digital CES2021 event were:
Nobi hanging Smart Light, a smart lamp that detects falls flawlessly and contacts the family member or the emergency services if needed. A device designed for the elderly living alone in their homes, it is a 24/7 monitoring device that is alert throughout the day. Nobi leverages extensive sensor arrays and AI for full prevention, detection, and security. The smart lamp also has other features such as an in-built smoke detector and air quality sensors for safe and healthy living, detecting burglary, and sending encouraging health messages. The simplistic and timeless product ensures the elderly enjoy a high quality of life without a care in the world.
CarePlus.ai’s new AI model acts as a home-care assistant providing multiple intelligent functions to help the elderly live their life with ease and convenience. The remote health-monitoring product comes with built-in functionality to detect unusual behaviors and raise an alert.
Another product that was in limelight was the ForeAider Z Smart Sensing Pad, a sleep monitoring system especially for the elderly. The pad tracks the movements and other vital health statistics with ease. A smart pad that is always by your side, it is designed for elders who are reluctant to use fitness wearables. This contact-free technology is used in mattresses to record and maintain each detail, even tracking movements on the bed or falling off the bed.
The event saw the caregiver smart solutions sore kit – a simple setup that consists of tiny sensors placed around the house that monitors the elderly activities and keeps their loved ones informed.
Similarly, CarePredict Touchpoint is a smart wearable Tempo that tracks daily activities and unusual ones too, allowing early intervention and care. A true innovation to retain their independence and dignity.
The CES 2021 Innovation Award-winning product, OrCam Technologies’ aims to facilitate the caregivers to help the elderly parents be as independent as possible. OrCam’s pen-sized, the wireless handheld device reads pages aloud from any printed surface or digital screen.
Quantum Operation’s smartwatch was announced. This comes with intelligent sensors that continuously monitor blood glucose without needles.
Valencell announced a cuffless blood pressure monitoring wearable device that uses biometric sensor technology.
An opportunity in discovery
It is a well-known fact that helping elderly with their tasks daily without pay/less pay or respite can impact the caregiver’s health, wellness and mental state—which can lead to burnout. So, with no option of professional giving services such as elderly homes, home nurses, traditional caregivers have hardly any alternatives left than caregiving at home.
Pre-COVID Ideapoke has observed a great emphasis by employers, to help their caregiving employees, with insurance schemes, at office-care homes, flexible work from home quota, and many more. Now the current post COVID scenario increases the burnout probability multi-fold. It will be interesting to see, changes in employee benefit programs by corporates, to help their employees avail technologies for creating a better working atmosphere. Will it lead to direct collaborations between the tech providers and employers? Or the Insurance players, who have been key stakeholders in providing employee health benefits will come up with new innovative products to capture this new opportunity.
Ideapoke works with top global insurance companies to study new technologies, perform detailed impact analysis, keep up to date on eco-system developments, etc. with the power of its proprietary AI capability. We help them design future-ready business models, identify key partnerships, and successful collaborations. With this unexpected opportunity in the caregivers’ market, we expect a great inflow of interest from leading industry players, seeking to capture the first-mover advantage.