As the average life expectancy grows by leaps and bounds, so does the number of “active years” a person can expect, thus also postponing the age of retirement. Elderly people strive to maintain an active lifestyle and “age in place” as long as their health and financial situation allows them, remaining in the comfort of their homes. While aging in place, seniors still need to have support and monitoring – services that have been traditionally performed by caregivers and relatives.
This trend manifests itself in the US with the paradoxical reduction of the nursing home resident population. The number of people residing in nursing homes went down from 1.48 million in 2000 to 1.36 million in 2015, due to changes in the potential residents’ preferences, in part encouraged by Medicare policies, leading to greater propensity for the elderly to move into assisted living or to choose other community settings. The trend of aging at home has only strengthened during Covid, with 9 out of 10 seniors preferring to age at home.
With the increased share of seniors in the overall population, there is also an increased incidence of various chronic conditions, which creates an ever-increasing demand for care
The demand for clinicians and caregivers outpaces the current supply across the board and affects registered nurses, physicians, and geriatricians. The trend is not limited to the United States either. The global demand for health care workers is predicted to reach 80 million, surpassing the supply, with a predicted shortage of 15 million clinical workers.
The convergence of the different trends such as the aging population, “aging in place”, and the scarcity of conventional care creates a perfect storm for tech-enabled care–telehealth, prophylactic care, and self-service solutions.
As seniors are becoming more tech savvy, they’re also able to leverage conveniences such as voice assistants, virtual care agents, wearables, and mobile devices, to help meet their needs.
Age-Tech Market Trends and Opportunities
Watching the industry closely, we see the following trends unfolding:
1.“Voice First”/ Audio technologies are gaining traction
We can expect to see mainstream personal assistants become more senior-friendly and integrated with a smart home environment tailored for senior citizens.
Voice tech companies focus on accelerating the adoption of the voice interfaces by seniors through simplifying communication with the voice assistants and catering to senior-specific issues which might cause speech impairment. We already see some work in this area being done both by the giants like Google, with its Project Euphonia, as well as by startups like Voiceitt.
Audio technologies also gain traction in AgeTech. Companies like Sensi focus on leveraging audio analytics-based AI to set a higher standard of care in long-term care settings. This enables care providers to offer 24/7 services, despite the massive shortage of caregivers and regardless of any patient’s financial capacity to afford round-the-clock care.
Sensi ‘learns’ the environment to set a baseline, detecting and analyzing any sound in the environment (running water, door shutting, specific people, tv sounds, cleaning activities, etc.) and is able to detect/alert of any anomalies afterwards (such as cognitive or physical decline, mental distress, unmatched routine schedule, etc.)