Many older adults have a yearning technically called “compression of morbidity.” They desire more than life expansion; they hope to stay active and independent until the end and then pass away quickly from terminal illnesses without suffering. Almost every major industry recognizes opportunities implied by this human aspiration.
Forrester Research has projected that in-home medical monitoring could reach $34 billion in 2015. Accordingly, Independa, an award-winning tech startup, provides care recipients with social and community content and appointment and medication reminders through flat-screen televisions and tablets. This cloud-based package of mHealth services delivers remote support for independent caregivers, as well as staff efficiencies for senior living communities, CCRCs, and nursing homes.
Intel is on a growing list of companies developing technologies to help people avoid nursing homes. Called Care Innovations, Intel’s strategic alliance with GE aims to commercialize home-based monitoring to improve quality-of-life while reducing national healthcare costs.
Age management, or anti-aging, has inspired breakthrough practices to slow the aging process. Some medical doctors advocate hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to diminish loss of muscle mass and prevent chronic fatigue. Many fitness facilities offer computerized, pneumatic plyometric machines for low-impact core training, diminishing wear-and-tear on joints and tendons. Pharmaceutical companies have over 400 drugs under development to tackle aging.
Homebuyers over 50 are downsizing and right-sizing. Some are adopting active-adult communities wired for the future and nostalgically reminiscent of the past. Others are occupying classic high-rises retrofitted with fiber optic cables and discrete accessibility features. Virtual retirement villages are springing up across the nation. Members pay a yearly fee to gain conciergelike, internet-based access to vetted services providers as well as social connections through group activities that help them age in place.
One of the newest categories in grocery stores is called “functional foods,” exemplified by GoodBelly probiotic juice drinks. Containing Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, GoodBelly’s designer beverages have been formulated to stimulate optimum digestive health.
Car manufacturers are designing third-age vehicles to address late-life mobility aspirations. For example, the Hyundai Genesis features an advanced Automatic Emergency Braking system that uses cameras and radar sensors. If a crash becomes imminent and a driver does not react, the system deploys, braking the vehicle from speeds as high as 50 MPH.
Blazing trails for the financial services industry, Merrill Lynch recently rolled out iPad software to help their advisors map retirement plans based around seven life priorities: health, family, finance, leisure, home, giving, and work. Merrill’s advisors can now amplify retirement planning meetings with discussions focused on “How’s your life?”
Thanks to technological revolutions in most industries today, the future of aging should be a lot less morbid, with time spent declining much more compressed for many.