We began the discussion of ageism in Ageism in America. We didn’t discuss the actual, physical implications of growing older. We didn’t discuss eldercare, or the people looking to make aging a more positive experience. America has a problem with growing old, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s not really a buzzword. It’s not a business sector that generates a lot of excitement, or even gets a lot of attention.
But Aging2.0 is looking to change that. As a “global innovation platform” dedicated solely to growing older and finding better ways to do it, they’re supporting startups that make aging a better, easier, cooler, and maybe even more fun experience, pushing perhaps what is some of the most crucial and life-changing tech into the spotlight.
They are (from their website) “…on a mission to accelerate innovation to improve the lives of older adults around the world. Aging2.0 connects, educates and supports innovators through community building (including the Alliance and Chapter communities), events and programming.”
“Age” is not nearly as important as ability or ambition. Seniors don’t have to accept the limitations of their age anymore than teenagers do, and that is now more of a reality than ever before.
There’s An App For That
Tech for your grandparents is disrupting the aging process.
Luvozo, a company dedicated to improving senior living, has designed a “robot concierge” named SAM to help with checkups, communication, fall-hazard assessment, emergency calls, and other basic tasks. It’s not as savvy (or huggable) as Big Hero 6‘s Baymax, but it lightens the workload of hospital staff and caregivers and gives patients a constant contact.
Tutela Industries looks to improve bedside communication options for the critically ill, to “seamlessly connect the patients’ entire circle of care in a timely and HIPAA capable manner to the bedside.”
But the goal is to also make the process of growing older something that can be enjoyable as well as functional.
Singfit, for example, is a karaoke app designed to combat the effects of dementia and improve mental positivity among seniors. Another company, Silver Sedans, promotes social activity for Alzheimer’s patients by providing ridesharing to activities and meetups.
Companies like these explore new ways to keep seniors healthy and active in ways that weren’t previously available.
These companies seek more than just to capitalize on a growing (in both investment dollars, and the percentage of population that is aging) industry. As people are generally living longer lives, and will be in need of long-term care, these companies will become more and more important.
The idea that our grandparents (and great-grandparents), many of whom grew up learning arithmetic in one-room schoolhouses, will integrate well with new tech is something that some people still have a hard time believing. Making tech user friendly for a generation that has just recently begun using email and Facebook is part of the plan.
As Grace Andruszkiewicz, the community director of Aging2.0, said in a recent article for Inverse,
“Almost every startup that we work with has a team that’s emotionally connected to what they’re doing, and they’re not in it to build a new app, get a billion dollars, and then retire at 25… They’re here because they’re really passionate about a personal story that affected their life and genuinely want to help other people.”
And, as we are all aging, investing in eldercare and integrating tech into the way we age will help people both now and in the future. What helps grandma and grandpa today will help mom and dad tomorrow, and their children however many years down the line. These are startups that look to offer long-term, forward-thinking plans to make growing older a better experience.
Integrating tech slowly into day-to-day is crucial. Teleahealth, for example, has become an increasingly common part of healthcare services: Everything from counselling and therapy to diabetic services can be administered over a secure video platform, like Simple Practice or even Zoom. The patient can receive care without leaving the home – in cities hostile to aging populations, this is an important step.
Eldercare is a sector that benefits the population as a whole: You, your family and friends, in need of care. It’s a tech that will be continuously useful and relevant, not shackled to changing modes and trends. At the end of the day, aging is something we all face. It doesn’t have to be defined on capitalist terms: You are still worthy of life even if you cannot work.