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, AgePower.org 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.

forfamily

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 www.digital-health.ca  

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

 

Get Everyone Online for Health

 

The release of a new Pew Internet Research Report called the Diagnois Difference funded by the California Healthcare Foundation has noted that

  1. People with chronic diseases are significantly less likely to have internet access than those without chronic diseases (72% vs 89%)
  2. Those with chronic diseases who are online use the Internet to find information and others who share the same chronic disease
  3. 45% of those aged 65 and over who were surveyed had 2 or more chronic diseases.

Chronic disease is statistically associated with advanced age and lower education, which are also  strongly associated with low internet access, and indeed, that connection is reflected in this study. Fully  75% of U.S. adults age 65 and older are living with a chronic condition, for example, and that age group  is the least likely to use the internet.

The ever-intelligent  Laurie Orlov is  smart enough to point out that here is our Opportunity…one that should also lower health care costs.  In the US, 53% of those over age 65 are online which means that 47% are not. Poorer, older and less educated adults are more likely to have chronic diseases and they are less likely to be online. They need the opportunitythat comes with being online.bigstock-Elder-woman-celebrating-her-on-45695032

Laurie Orlov suggests a national Online for Health” campaign that factors in the health-related benefits of doing so. We need to do the same here which Laurie smartly summarizes:

  • Leverage the younger to train the older
  • Slash the cost of high bandwidth connection
  • Run advocacy campaigns until the desired result is obtained . Given that Social Media use for those over 65 has increased greatly in the last few years; it’s Do-ABLE

Laurie Orlov knows of what she speaks – her pitch should be our pitch the  opportunity that we have right now to lower health care costs by helping older individuals get online to better manage their health.

I’m in. I’m a believer.

So, who wants to buy some Age Friendly Software in time for Christmas??

 

Wanted: Innovative technologies for age related challenges

The World Health Organization had this to say about the relative importance of Technology & Innovation for older individuals (as early as 2006):

Increased focus on biomedical research and innovative technologies for age-related health needs and conditions should be encouraged as investments in healthy and active ageing.

tech_aging_from_WHO