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ENTREPRENEURS AROUND THE WORLD ARE waking up to the emerging market of inventions designed to enhance and enrich the lives of seniors, although these innova- tions can benefit many people of all ages and abilities through their application. By 2050 in the United States alone, 83.7 million people will


be 65 years old or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That is almost double the 43.1 million in 2012. It’s a trend that’s occurring across the rest of the globe. Senior living companies providing healthcare are looking to


emerging technologies to become more efficient and to contain care costs, said Dan Hirschfeld, president of Genesis Rehab Services. Hirschfeld spoke at Aging 2.0’s mid-October tech- nology and aging conference in San Francisco. Genesis is a member of this global network of entrepreneurs, investors and others who are looking to build products for this burgeoning market. “I’m looking for technologies that can transform how we deliver healthcare,” he said. Emerging technologies have the potential to disrupt the senior


healthcare market and thereby nudge service providers to improve their offerings, said Aging 2.0 Co-founder Stephen Johnston. Healthcare services are, of course, a big component. But there


INNOVATIONS CHANGING THE AGING EXPERIENCE


By Sarah Lai Stirland


are plenty of other applications in the realms of virtual reality, media, artificial intelligence, network connectivity and robotics that promise to enable seniors to stay independent, mobile, con- nected and engaged with friends, family and the wider world. Several senior living operators, such as Brookdale, Revera,


Good Samaritan Society, and Front Porch have established in- novation centers to build a communications channel to these entrepreneurs so they can design products that seniors actually will find a reason to use. “I do think there is a space for the use of robotics and artificial


intelligence especially in senior living. And it’s not just healthcare,” Brookdale’s director of strategy and innovation, Andrew Smith, told Senior Living Executive. “I think a lot of people look at our in- dustry, and they think of healthcare…but we’re not just in the healthcare business. We’re in the human care business. I see a lot of applications for seniors.” Smith said people just want to live their lives better. If you


can convince someone that with just a click, they can call their granddaughter and read a book together with an app, they will learn it, he said. “They’ve been learning new devices all their lives. The question is if they think it’s worthwhile, and it’s something that they care about. And I can tell you that an app to monitor their medications isn’t going to get them excited.” The best ideas promote engagement, according to Davis Park,


director of Front Porch’s Center for Innovation and Wellbeing. “The important thing that ties all these technologies together


is really not the technology itself, but how we use it,” he said, echoing peers in his industry. At their most powerful, the tech- nologies are tools to enable seniors to engage in experiences both familiar and new, to stay safe, and to use to connect emo- tionally with their friends and family around them.


Continued on page 42 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 / SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE 41


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