A Place for Mom’s SVP of Technology and CIO, Clifford Cancelosi, recently had the opportunity to catch up with Aging 2.0 to discuss important innovations for aging America. Learn more about what they see in this next generation of senior care technology.
I was surprised to discover that the population of adults over 50 in the United States controls more than three quarters of the total wealth in the country. That’s pretty staggering, if you think about it. What’s particularly interesting is that technology companies have historically ignored innovating for this population. I get it, the youngest generation in the U.S. represents the highest usage of technology. But given where the wealth is and the increasing technical sophistication of this population; you would expect to find more product and service innovations for the over-50 demographic.
Enter Aging 2.0 founders Katy Fike, a PhD gerontologist, and Stephen Johnston, a Harvard MBA. These talented individuals are on a mission to inspire innovation for this unique population of users and to improve the lives of seniors around the world. But what is Aging 2.0 exactly? Aging 2.0 is a ‘global innovation network and accelerator program’, and in other words, a global movement that is changing the way we age. Katy and Stephen are on a mission to connect, educate and support innovators in aging and long-term care.
I had the pleasure of connecting with Katy and Stephen, who see a distinct innovation gap in technology solutions for seniors. They are bringing together entrepreneurs, senior service professionals, tech-companies, distributors and investors to create novel solutions for aging populations across the globe. Katy and Stephen have a unique perspective that helps them grow their global platform, and after hearing about their approach, I wasn’t at all surprised with their growing success delivering novel and useful solutions for the aging market.
Katy notes that technology is important but the most important thing is a change in the mindset. “Our starting point is that longer life is not a challenge, but an opportunity, and our mission is to use innovation to improve the quality of life of seniors around the world.”
And Katy and Stephen are doing just that. To date, they have successfully run 40 events across the globe, created global chapters and launched a San Francisco-based GENerator accelerator program to support the most talented entrepreneurs in the space. Katy and Stephen say that this global perspective, a unique network and their diverse backgrounds given them a unique ability to connect innovators with fresh ideas together with those in the aging and long-term care industry.
“We’re building this cross-disciplinary global platform that connects key stakeholders in order to accelerate innovation,” Stephen said. “We also draw from our collective experience… to help build bridges across industries and around the globe.”
In this day and age, it seems like new technology is emerging every minute, but there are few companies who are active in applying it to create a better quality of life for seniors in their autumn years. Katy and Stephen believe that the disconnect “results in a lower quality of life for seniors around the world,” and as a result, “we’re not seeing the full benefits of innovation applied to lowering costs and improving the quality of services for seniors.”
According to Aging.0 this gap is something that rapidly needs to be closed, but thankfully, they say the market is beginning to change “as great entrepreneurs are coming to the space.” Fortunately, the companies that Aging 2.0 is working with through their GENerator accelerator program are doing just that. Through the program, Katy and Stephen help startups who have great ideas and are passionate about aging and long-term care, and provide them with tailored services to help them directly connect with senior living facilities.
The program products include everything from smart home monitors, to beautifully designed products for seniors, to healthcare analytics, to senior-focused transportation services. Most of the companies are now engaged in piloting their solutions at local senior care facilities.
Over the past two years Aging2.0 have met with over 1,000 senior care startups (of which the GENerator is home to 11 of the best. There’s actually a tremendous amount of exciting companies out there working to improve lives for older people.
Of Aging 2.0’s top 11 senior care technology companies to watch in 2014, I’ve gone ahead and picked three of which I’m most interested in during the upcoming year. These companies include:
Remember those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials? Lively takes this approach to a whole new level. Their solution provides a series of sensors that you place in your loved one’s home that keeps track of and reports on important daily activities. These activities could include a keychain being picked up, a pill box being used, doors being opened, and the like. The sensors provide information back to a beautiful app on your phone so you can stay connected to your loved one and their activities.
Tapestry is a neat social app to help seniors stay connected with the people and things they love, especially their family. It provides them with an easy to use, safe and secure environment where they can send messages and share photos (among other things) using an iPad, smart phone of computer. Sharing pictures and emails is main reason seniors want to get online — and studies have shown this kind of connectivity increases happiness and keeps people healthier.
Many of us will be placed in the complex position of being a caregiver for an elderly loved one. This can be difficult, frustrating, and in some cases, dangerous. But, with CareSolver, you are provided with an interactive walkthrough process and useful content and videos to help you establish and organize daily tasks , all with alerts and reminders to make the process easy and more foolproof.
Katy and Stephen think we’re going to see a closing gap between seniors and other products in 2014, such as wearables, and see technologies that “augment people’s lives” (such as reading small print, giving directions and helping people stay organized). They also expect to see a focus on health companies that allow seniors, whether living independently or in a facility, to have a closer connection to their healthcare providers.
Aging 2.0 is a great example of passion meeting need. I am excited by what I learned about Katy and Stephen’s approach and will be watching them closely over the coming years.
About Katy Fike PhD, Co-founder, Aging2.0
Katy Fike is a PhD gerontologist, strategy consultant, former investment banker, systems engineer and blogger (Tech Savvy Daughter). Katy is passionate about bridging the gap between traditional aging organizations and the startup / investor community.
About Stephen Johnston MBA, Co-founder, Aging2.0
Stephen Johnston is a globally-minded social entrepreneur. A former mobile and technology executive, Stephen has spent 15 years working at the intersection of innovation, mobile and health. He serves on the board of New York-based Older Adults Technology Services.