Pew Research Center
Senior Care = Highest Cost of Care
Given the rising incidence of chronic diseases, managing the health of seniors is becoming an increasingly difficult proposition. Because this age group accounts for a larger slice of healthcare expenditure, it also reflects an opportunity for savings through regular monitoring of their health conditions. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done today, especially with a globally rising population of seniors and stagnant or lowering numbers of skilled doctors and other care providers.
Seniors often face vulnerability, loneliness, boredom and isolation. Therefore, apart from the medical needs, seniors also have emotional needs like security (especially for those living alone); emotional connections with family, friends and the community; and the ability to participate in leisure activities.
Today’s solutions reflect piecemeal attempts at solving these challenges. Some approaches focus on holistic health management, while most try to monitor single health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease (read “lack of care coordination”); reimbursement for such services is another challenge altogether. On the emotional front, some volunteer associations (and even some start-ups in India) offer volunteer services to accompany seniors while performing their regular errands, or even to just play games and help them pass time. Variations thereof are also seen in the Nordic region, which combine children’s nurseries or college hostels and senior living facilities. Senior living communities help to a certain extent by taking care of both physical and emotional needs, but they do not allow seniors the freedom to live in their own homes or live life on their terms.
Frost & Sullivan keeps a close watch over the developments in the technology world and how they are applied to healthcare. Several innovative developments are truly transforming numerous areas of care, but senior care receives a lot of attention because the world’s senior population is growing and the manpower to take care of their needs is gradually diminishing; Japan’s aging situation today is a testament to what is to come. A significant part of the population is elderly, resulting in several healthcare challenges. Technology, then, becomes the savior, and we have found several such applications for senior care. The above video by CableLabs is a wonderful visual experience of what can become the future of aging; it is very much in line with our thinking.