Americans are living 64 percent longer than we did just one century ago. To attest to that, the Baby Boomer population of 76 million is now older than 65. Governments and employers have classified seniors as “old and inactive,” but as we live healthily longer, 65 should not be considered old anymore–nor should seniors be considered an economic or social burden.
The Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit in Berkeley, Calif. brought together corporations, startups, providers, and insurers to discuss the economic longevity wave and specifically, technologies and services that can transform lives of the aging population.
Jeff Makowka, American Association of Retired Persons director of market innovation, discussed the purchasing power of the longevity economy with 35 percent of the U.S. population age 50 or older. This group accounts for $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity and $5.6 trillion in consumer spending. If this demographic were its own country, it would be the third largest economy in the world. The under 50 aged group comparatively spends $4.9 trillion.
Over 60 percent of AARP readers believe businesses do not care about older consumers. So, let’s tap the breaks on excitement for the latest Snapchat filter and reconsider the purchasing power of this segment.
Technology impact most desired by 65+ aged Americans:
- 60 percent-Medical advances to address my illnesses, conditions or diseases
- 34 percent-Tools that allow me to stay in my home longer
- 27 percent-Transportation technologies that allow me to get around more easily
- 16 percent-Pharmaceuticals that allow me to live healthier longer
Corporate initiatives by Amazon and others
Alexa and other tools exemplify in-home connected devices providing news, music, reading, shopping, and communication for home-bound seniors. They also provide companionship. Hasbro, the children’s toy company, has entered the longevity market with animatronic cats and dogs. Hasbro VP Ted Fischer explained their animatronic robotic children’s pet products also help isolated and lonely seniors because of the interaction and responsiveness. We may soon see the Amazon Echo embodied in an animatronic cockerdoodle that follows you around the house answering questions or reading the newspaper.
Healthy aging support and new care delivery models
Telehealth is the fastest growing healthcare segment due to the confluence of reduced regulation. Technology advances and patient interest in on-demand services are shaping new models. This will become the standard of care as stakeholders are already shifting toward using, providing, and paying for telehealth. Early adoption has shown improved outcomes, care coordination, clinical efficiency, consumer engagement, and reduced costs.
Senior living remains an underserved telehealth market within senior living and aging-at-home solutions. It is soon expected to help:
- Avoid unnecessary hospitalizations
- Manage chronic illness more effectively
- Utilize clinical resources more efficiently
- Improve medication adherence
- Enhanced communication
- 24/7 monitoring
- Identify warning signs earlier
- Engage in proactive vs. reactive care via patient-centric v. physician-centric
- Safety monitoring
- Slow the transition to acute settings
The China concern in the Global Age wave
The U.S. longevity market presents an economic opportunity; however, there are different concerns for China’s aging population that is expanding at twice the U.S. rate before their One Child policy started in 1979. That decision creates challenging parental support ratios for seniors, where children have traditionally been the primary caretakers. Zac Dychtwald, author of “Young China: How the Restless Generation will Change the World” said, “The economics of it are, no country on earth is more determined to solve this problem than China. They’ll have 371 million people over age 65 by 2050. If they don’t solve this, their economy is doomed.”
Hormone Therapeutics runner-up in the Boomer Venture Summit startup competition
Hormone Therapeutics was selected as one of 6 start-up finalists, from 76 submissions, to present to the VCs at the conference in the Healthy Aging Innovative Startup competition. We presented our virtual platform for personal health optimization and were named the runner-up. BaroStitch won the competition driven by four Ph.D. students from Stanford’s Biodesign program patented, suture-based healing device for endovascular artery procedures. Judges were from corporate and venture funds, including DCM, GE Ventures, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Ziegler Link-Age, Toyota Research Institute, and Intel Capital.
Hunter Howard is a SMU grad who has founded four healthcare technology start-ups in Dallas: Hormone Therapeutics, Therawell, Ocracoke Health, and MediGain.