Can tech devices to support the senior citizens to minimise loneliness?
Over the decades, ageing people facing a perfect storming time. They will go to retirement age when people are tasting long live than ever, pensions amount are in crisis local authorities and national government are facing unprecedented spending reductions. Socio-economic challenges, serious medical conditions and the resulting from ageing are on the rise – with dementia causing various distress to many older people and their families and alienated proving a present curse.
This crisis will only rise over the time. Tax revenues continue to diminish and state-led solutions, which for the past 70 years have given dignity, comfort, are not going to provide all the answers in future, and care for people in old age, no way which political party is ruling the country.
Thankfully, government departments, charitable trusts and local authorities and are alert to these challenges, and providing efforts to solve. From the Department of charity organisations and Health like UnLtd, Nesta and the Calouste Galenian Foundation, funders and researchers are embracing innovation and taking punts on ideas – seeking the concepts, partnerships and technologies that could be improved and rolled out more widely in the future, and at low cost.
Spurred by research indicating that people aged between 50 and 74 are more likely to volunteer, UnLtd has a programme to increase the number of social enterprises developed by older people, for older people.
It is hoped that user-led entrepreneurialism will inspire dozens of hyper-local schemes, each responding to a particular group. That must be a blueprint for the national government’s approach, too – unleashing new projects, learning from the best, and applying the skills, expertise and human interaction that’s so important for a healthy life.
In particular, entrepreneurs are harnessing the power of digital technology to bring people together to develop local solutions to international problems.
Grannynet is a website that supports a community of more than 3,000 grandmothers. It is a vibrant digital community that also provides access to offline courses for grandparents to get to grips with modern parenting methods. Its founder, Verity Gill, says the site is a place “to exchange the positive experiences of grandparenting and also a course of support through the bad bits”.
Cura, a new technology platform set up in Wiltshire, is a website that helps families and friends share in the delivery of care for their loved ones. Based on a simple, secure and sharable online calendar, Cura offers respite and provides peace of mind for some of the six million unpaid carers in the UK.
The social enterprise I founded, North London Cares, uses social media to recruit young professionals to help support elderly neighbours with low level but crucial tasks, such as getting the weekly shopping done, or making that all important GP appointment. Those small, personal interactions can have a really positive effect in people’s lives, providing the connection, companionship, comfort and care many of our more isolated neighbours need.
In the networked age, that human capital and civic participation represent a potent force waiting to be harnessed for the improved care of our older friends and family. Government, and an enabling mentality across the broader social and private sectors, has a big role to play in unleashing that powerful resource.
In the private sector, too, new solutions – often built around new digital techniques – are beginning to appear. Some supermarkets are looking at how to use the web to better serve their older customers, including to reduce the cost of an average food basket. Banks are seeking similar ways to provide a more accessible service to their older customers –consulting with customers, developing networks, and responding with improved systems.
Of course, no single group or idea will provide all the solutions. But, given the nature of the problem – and the power of modern technology to connect, enthuse and inspire – I’m confident that in the coming decade we will make strides in deploying technology and human capital to tackle perhaps the greatest challenge of our time: how we care for our older relatives and neighbours in a rapidly increased senior citizens. Further study can be conducted to get the real result of this scenario and providing technology to our senior citizens to access it.