Products and services for older adults need urgent innovation

Products and services for older adults need urgent innovation

26 Jan 2012

79 per cent of Britons want increased innovation to improve quality of life in older age, according to new findings released today by the UK’s innovation agency, The Technology Strategy Board. More innovation is needed to enable us to live independently for longer and today sees the launch of Tomorrow Together, a new campaign that aims to spark a national conversation about the future needs of older adults. People can take part in the discussion at tomorrowtogether.innovateuk.org.

 Key findings

·         90 per cent of people in the UK are not looking forward to older age

·         Nearly half of people (43 per cent) think that better products and services to sustain independence would change this

·         79 per cent of people in the UK want more innovation in products and services for older age

 A need for better products

A worrying 90 per cent of people in the UK are not looking forward to older age, the survey of over 2000 adults found, with concerns about health, mobility, wealth and social interaction ranking highly. Nearly half of people (43 per cent) think that better market products that sustain independence would change this.

 With 80 per cent of wealth in the UK resting in the hands of over 50s[i], the poll highlights a notable market opportunity.  Mike Biddle, Leader of the Assisted Living Innovation Platform at the Technology Strategy Board said: “There is an open goal for innovators, while the new parent market is flooded, consideration of the older adult market is distinctly lacking, despite their much greater comparative wealth.”

 “People should be demanding better products and services for later life. A lot of technology around us is purely functional – it’s based on a need, not on desirability and relevance – and older life shouldn’t just be about surviving, it should be about thriving and enjoying yourself as much as any other time in your life. The Tomorrow Together website is about encouraging people to talk about what they want in their later life.”

 Demand for social innovation

According to the survey, 41 per cent of people in the UK cite a lack of social interaction and new opportunities as their greatest concern in older age. Many saw later life as an opportunity for self improvement, with over a third (41 per cent) seeing later life as a time they would like to engage with others either through continued employment or volunteering.

 Worries about remaining included within society are reflected in current UK findings on this matter; half of people aged 75 years and over live alone[ii] while 3.1 million of over 65’s do not see someone they know at least once a week[iii].  Additionally, the Technology Strategy Board poll found that 40 per cent of people said being provided with access to more things to do and experience would improve their quality of life in older age.

 These findings are particularly significant following the Department for Work and Pensions announcement of a "staggering" rise in life expectancy, predicting that a fifth of Britons alive today will celebrate their 100th birthday[iv].

 Making change happen

The Technology Strategy Board is working through its Assisted Living Innovation Platform to become a catalyst for an innovation revolution for later life and is working in collaboration with a range of partner organisations including the Design Council, the Department of Health and the Research Councils, to develop technologies and services that will enable individuals to live more independently in the way that they choose.

People are being invited to join the conversation at tomorrowtogether.innovateuk.org or on Twitter by following @TomorrowTogethr or the hashtag #innovateforage.

Jackie Marshall-Cyrus Lead Specialist on the Technology Strategy Board’s Assisted Living Innovation Platform said: “We need urgent innovation. It’s time for the talented, passionate brains of today to re-imagine and rethink for the future and work on tomorrow, together.”

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Last updated on Wednesday 11 April 2012 at 10:38

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