Dear Canada: Where are we in the era of age-related innovation?

Richard Eisenberg,  the Senior Web editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue wrote a column recently where he declared that the Tech World has finally found the market for those over age 50

He writes in his column (enthusiastically) entitled Suddenly the Tech World Loves People over 50

“The long overdue, new era of age-related innovation and entrepreneurship intended to make life better for Americans over 50 and their caregivers”

Aging 2.0 provides one of many forums in the US that is now front and centre connecting technology and design innovators with investors & experts specifically for the 50+ market.  No doubt, the Affordable Care Act in the US is playing a big role in the healthcare technology market particularly, but Aging 2.0 also sponsor  events in the UK , Germany and soon there will be events in Asia.  So, indeed it’s happening in the US and elsewhere.

But what about Canada?Stats Canada over 65 2011

Mr. Eisenberg talks about really great things starting to happen in the US where startup mentor/funders, accelerators, incubators and generators are targeting health tech innovators looking for investment & contests with 5 figure awards. There is growing interest from Silicon Valley engineers, designers & tech innovators. Organizations like Aging 2.0 , AARP’s Innovation@50+, Ecumen, and MOJO Minnesota, the Standford Centre on Longevity, LeadingAge, and others are all moving the market forward in various ways in the US.

HackFest in Dallas in Oct 2014, the Louisville Innovation Summit, Aging 2.0’s GENerator, AARP’s Health Innovation@50 Live Pitch contests in Boston and San Diego are all programs specifically looking for startups focused on the 50+ demographic.

The magnetic pull is of course the growing number of people 50 and older. 101M Americans are now in that demographic and there will be 113M by 2018. But Canada is aging as well.  Almost 13M Canadians are now 50 and older and that number is expected to increase to 14.5M  by 2018

Mr. Eisenberg gives a great quote from Stephen Johnston the NY Based co-founder of Aging 2.0 about one of the driving forces behind the transformation towards this growing demographic of 50 and over.

“It’s a little boring figuring out the next app to move mobile advertising inventory. People are hungry for more important projects to work on”  

No offense to those who may be working on such apps for mobile advertising but …I’m in agreement with Mr. Johnston. There are really important projects to work on and that’s what I believe more of us should be working on and supporting.


That’s what made me give up a nice steady income as an Accountant and Advisor supporting entrepreneurs to get out in front.  A personal health crisis I experienced by way of my in-laws first hand educated me about how unprepared most of us are to navigate the health care system and help our loved ones with many of the challenges that can come with aging.  And so I ‘pivoted’ my professional life and decided to work with older individuals & their families to provide the assistance I knew I could have used when caring for my inlaws. Which is how I came upon a whole growing array of affordable technology enabled assistive solutions that can make a difference to that same demographic but get very little attention  and awareness…which is now the mission behind a new site I’m building at  

But, as it happens & while I would not recommend this strategy in hindsight,  I will confess here that I have 2 different technology related startups geared towards this 50+ market – the second being a financial organizing solution seeking to help reduce the growing & global problem of Unclaimed assets, which in North America alone is about a $62B problem. A white label, online solution for financial & estate organizing, LegacyTracker helps individuals & families save, safeguard & share important information & documents while tracking their financial progress & enhancing their level of emergency preparedness.

So with not 1 but 2 different age related innovations geared to the market of those over 50 (and possibly/maybe being over 50 myself) …I await the kind of excitement that I see happening elsewhere but not so much in Canada.

So where is this love for the 50+ market in Canada? 

At the very least one would expect that since most Canadians do hope to age and age well, as opposed to the alternative, one would also expect that lots of innovation geared towards this demographic and the investment to support those innovations would start occuring here in a big way; enabling the very innovation that will make all of our lives easiser in the future!

As Mr. Eisenberg points out,  some of the changes taking place in the US are the direct result of venture capitalists and investors who are aging themselves and at the same time, dealing with age related challenges that their parents are facing. That’s certainly my story as someone with 2 startups who wants to make a difference  in this market. So where is our “shift” to support age related innovations in a more bold way in Canada?  The fact that the over 50+ market happens to be both the fastest growing demographic AND the wealthiest demographic segment in Canada comes as an extra bonus to those that help this shift take place.

Here’s the link to Mr. Eisenberg’s article on Next Avenue that prompted me to write this post

Suddenly the Tech World loves People over 50 

Thank you Mr. Richard Eisenberg @richeis315






Over 80 in Ontario? Special rules for Health Card Renewals

And so they should have special rules about renewing health cards if you are over 80 or if you have a loved one that is over 80. The problem is that while it was a good initiative they certainly don’t promote it very well. Those I have spoken with in health card for the most part do not know either. Our own hospital told us there was no choice but to renew my 94.5 year old  father in laws health card by taking him to Service Ontario. Right. His health card expired while he was in hospital and I refused to take him to Service Ontario in his frail condition.   So here are the special exceptions that you can also find online…

Service Ontario site 


Health Card ontario                             You can mail in the renewal form by mail and receive a photo and signature exempt health card. Just complete and sign the form on the back of the renewal form and                                                         either take it to Service Ontario or mail it

Here’s the link to downloading any forms  you might need for Health Cards in Ontario




Hope this helps


Family Caregiving in Canada-an increasing challenge


Family Caregivers are vital to Canadians living with a chronic condition, disability or facing many of the challenges that naturally come with Aging.

Family Caregivers  are an integral part of the health & well-being of our Society, providing unpaid care for spouses, children, parents, parent-in-law, close friends and other extended family members who need assistance. Family Caregivers have been noted as “the invisible backbone” of the health and long term care system in Canada that we have relied upon in the past and will  upon even more so, in the future.

Some interesting yet worrisome facts from Stats Canada based on data collected in 2012 in a General Social Survey “Portraits of Caregivers” and “Family Caregiving: What are the Consequences?”

  • Nearly 3 in 10 Canadians over the age of 15 years are family caregivers
  • In 2012, 8 million Canadians (28% of the population aged 15 and over),  provided care to family members or friends with a long-term health condition, a disability or problems associated with aging.
  • Age related needs were identified as the single most common issue requiring help from caregivers at 28% followed by Cancer (11%), Heart Disease (9%), Mental issues (7%) and Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia (6%)
  • Of these 8 million Canadian  family caregivers, 39%  primarily cared for their father or mother, 19% cared for parent-in-law, 16% cared for a close friend, 13% cared for Grandparents, 8% cared for their spouse or partner, and 5% for their child. The remaining (48%)  provided care to other family members
  • Family Caregivers (who provided at least 2 hours of care per week) can often feel overwhelmed or depressed; depending upon the intensity of the care provided; Results show 8% of those who helped their child, 34% who helped their spouse and 21% who helped their parents reported feeling depressed.
  • The same group of Family Caregivers (those providing at least 2 hours of care per week) often are challenged financially. Results show 8% who cared for a child, 20% who cared for a spouse and 7% of those regularly helping their parents  experienced financial difficulties as a result of caregiving responsibilities
  • The relationship between Caregiver and Care Receiver has an impact on the time spent caregiving. Generally, those caring for a child or spouse spent more hours; between 10-14 hours.
  • Women represented a slight majority of caregivers in Canada in 2012 at 54%.
  • Caregivers often have multiple responsibilities. 60% were working at a paid job or business, 28% had children under the age of 18

Caregiving comes in many different forms. Survey Results show how caregivers spent their time:

Transportation (73%) Housework (51%), Home Maintenance/Outdoor Work (45%), Scheduling/Coordinating Appointments (31%), Managing Finances (27%), Helping with medical treatments  (23%) and Personal Care (22%)

bigstock-Hand-Holding-A-Heart-Icon-38884273Various policies, programs, tax credits and  supports can and do help family caregivers (and those that they care for).

Caregivers who care for a child or spouse have greater needs based on the impacts shown, and therefore generally, there are more supports like Respite Care and Financial Supports provided to this group of Caregivers; which seems reasonable.  Having said that, there are still many unmet needs for this group of caregivers.

However, those that care for a parent (which is where the largest share of family caregivers spend their time) often lack Respite support services or Financial Supports and so there is much debate.

This debate will continue and most likely get louder. Canada has like most developed Countries, an aging population in combination with increased life expectancy, a demographic trend towards families having fewer children & an increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses. That means the Demand for family caregivers will continue to grow and most likely in a significant way.

To review the entire article from Statistics Canada you can visit their website  or download the report here GSS_Portrait_of_Caregivers_-_2013-eng

Good Resources on Family Caregiving in Canada 

The Canadian Caregiver Coalition is a national body consisting of national and provincial organizations from across Canada,  promoting the needs & interests of family caregivers with all levels of Government in and communities in Canada.  Through an Annual Planning Process they identify/confirm strategic priorities and public policy changes that can make a difference for Family Caregivers. Their plan advocates building partnerships, facilitating education & sharing resources.  Their website is a good resource for information about the Challenges facing Family Caregivers as well as for resources & insight into some public policy changes that may assist those that “care”  

The Ontario Caregiver Coalition also works to support & advance the interests of caregivers-in the Province of Ontario.



How important is eHealth for Seniors? (VERY)

The 2013 Accenture HealthCare Consumer Survey confirms it…older individuals are using the internet more (and more) and Health Information is a key reason why. The Digital revolution is not just for the young but for older individuals as well and they want access to more of their healthcare online. Internet use rates have tripled amongst older populations 65 and over and have doubled for those between age 50 and 64 between 2000 and 2012 according to Pew Research.


Accenture surveyed 9,015 adults in nine countries, including 1,470 US seniors 65 over and conducted a separate survey of 200 Medicare consumers.  Here are some of the key findings:

  • Most older users used the internet at least once a day.
  • 91%   said they use email frequently and 73 %  search the internet frequently.
  • Around 30% used Facebook or other social media.
  •  67%  of US seniors said accessing medical information online was very or somewhat important to them.
  • 56% of Medicare customers had visited their health plan’s website at least once in the past 12 months.
  • Only 28 % of seniors reported having full access to their electronic health record, but 83 % wanted access
  • 68 %  of seniors said the ability to refill prescriptions electronically was somewhat or very important, but just 46 % reported being able to do so

Those surveyed were also asked about what was the most important digital offering a Doctor or Hospital could provide:

  • 46% wanted the ability to access their electronic health records & medical history online or via mobile
  •  42 % wanted the ability to see a doctor virtually and without a co-pay
  • 15% wanted a mobile app or online tool in order to schedule their appointments

So it would seem that it’s not just the younger demographics who are looking to manage certain aspects of their healthcare online. While a representative of Accenture Health indicated that “What this means for providers and health plans is that they’ll need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctor’s office.

I think it also means that younger demographics will not just wish for it but will demand it.

It’s 2013 after all. While we are not flying around in cars in the sky;  we should certainly be able to manage our healthcare like we do our chequebook…online.

Read the Accenture Study Summary – Insight Driven Health – Silver Surfers are catching the eHealth Wave