The fact that our population is getting older is an insurmountable fact and will have a tremendous impact on various aspects of society. Over the next three decades, the global number of elderly (65+) is projected to double and reach 1.5 BN. But how come that the global Silver economy receives so little from tech innovators and investors? With a market size of 3.7 trillion USD, you could say it has huge potential…
Although annual venture funding in elder care has increased over the years, it is not anywhere near the size of the opportunity. In addition, eldercare focuses only on (health)care propositions and excludes many other opportunities tapping into the potential of the Silver Economy. Without going deep into the research findings, I identified 5 challenges that could potentially be tackled by (software or marketplace) SilverTech innovation:
1. Non-medical home care & Care coordination
In 2020, The European Commission published nursing professionals to be the number one shortage in occupation. This is not only applicable to hospitals and rehabilitation centers but also to home care professionals. There are many public initiatives like Buurtzorg (NL) and the Life Longer Living Model (DE), but approximately 70% of non-medical home care is privately paid. Finding the right caregiver can be a challenge, this is what marketplaces like Careship (GER), SuperCarers (UK) and, Saaraanhuis (NL) facilitate.
The aging population affects multiple stakeholders, besides the older generation itself. An important target group in this trend is the sandwich generation, the generation that can not (or may not want to) actively take care of their elderly parents, as they are raising their children and have a career. This generation, however, feels responsible and is willing to pay for the wellbeing of their parents. SilverTech founders could target this generation to speed up go-to-market and expansion.
It is not only the care gap but also the communication between the different stakeholders and instances that can be facilitated by technology. The US is one step ahead here, offering solutions like SMARTcare, Chartpath, and others. A European example would Pfleglisoft (GER) or Dignio (UK). These software solutions will keep all stakeholders (caregivers, family & seniors) on top of relevant medical information such as medicine intake, doctors appointments, diet changes, etc.
2. Aging in place
“Aging in place” is explained as the ability to grow old in one’s own home safely, independently, and comfortably. Evenly severe as the care gap is the shortage of suitable housing for the older generation. Technology can be beneficial in two ways: the search for suitable housing and, facilitating aging at home.
An example of an online marketplace that facilitates the search for retirement homes in Europe is Woonz (NL). Facilitating aging at home mostly concerns solutions that have a hardware component like fall protection or alarm buttons. UK-based Birdie, however, is taking this to a next level in connecting apps and home-connected devices to track elderly well-being in real-time.
3. End of life planning
Seeing a loved one pass away is always emotional. Very often, unfortunately, relatives immediately have to deal with a lot of administrative work. There are a lot of decisions to make and you want to act according to wishes. SilverTech companies like Life After me (NL), Afternote (NL), or Farewill (UK) facilitate the distribution of important documentation of assets, legacy, and will to the right people after passing away. These platforms will require one to think about their life ending in advance. Closure (NL) and MyMorpheus (BE), on the other hand, help relatives with the financial administration after the death of a loved one.
4. Active aging & social inclusion
Now that we have advanced medicine keeping us on our feet for longer, we need to learn how to grow old in a sustainable manner. We need to adapt our lifestyle in order to sustain our physical and mental well-being for this marathon. Staying fit and healthy will require diet changes and consistency in movement and exercise. Combining physical, mental, and cognitive health with enjoyment and social connection will be the driver for change. An example of a SilverTech platform challenging seniors to exercise and connect (all corona proof) is Klup (NL).
We tend to talk about elderly and think of our old grandma of 80+. The official definition of elderly however starts with the age of 65. Although it is true society gets older, we tend to overlook the wisdom and the untapped potential of this generation. There is a big group of seniors that is still able and wishing to contribute to society. In 2018 the UN developed the active aging index that measures the level to which seniors live independent lives, participate in paid employment and social activities as well as their capacity for active aging. Countries like the Netherlands together with Sweden and UK, score highest on all aspects of the index. A social initiative that taps into this is Club Goud, a platform that connects seniors to society.
Connecting with others online has become a key medium to facilitate social inclusion. One argument often used when explaining the gap in technological innovation for elderly is the lack of tech-savviness. This is a big misunderstanding, as 80% of the population above 60 years owns a smartphone. Moreover, older adults are the fastest-growing category of e-commerce shoppers. You might have to think about ease of use when facilitating elderly adopters but it is definitely not said that this group is not willing to adopt the technology. SilverTech companies like UniperCare, Femly, or Peekabond facilitate communication & activity for the older generation.
5. Financial planning
Last but surely not least, financial planning. This is foremost important for people that were formerly self-employed or worked for smaller organizations without pension plans. As we live longer, we need to spread our savings over a longer period of time. To sustain the same standard of living, it is important to plan your finances ahead. There are many Financial advisors who can do this for you, but why not use software to solve this pain. Retire Easy facilitates retirement planning for UK citizens and so does Agicap (FR) (although not focused solely on seniors).
Below you find a start of the SilverTech market map, with all propositions that we have seen in our trend screening. We, here at Peak, see a huge (partly untouched) market with big potential for SilverTech-innovation in all 5 of these value propositions serving the Silver Economy and tackling its needs.