Excerpts from The New Mobile Age
The aging of our population is a worldwide phenomenon. Low birth rates and a longer lifespan are causing a global demographic shift—people almost everywhere are living longer than ever. The pace of population aging may vary from country to country, but according to the World Health Organization by 2020, for the first time in recorded history, the number of people on earth aged 65 plus will outnumber children younger than 5 years. By 2050, the number of people 65 plus is expected to triple to 1.5 billion, representing 16% of the world’s population.
The fact is, we are not at all prepared to address the implications of caring for an aging population that will soon be twice the size of a younger demographic, both in the United States and around the world. We are still, in large part, floundering, trying to quickly cobble together policies and services to meet the needs of the diverse and growing older population.
The demographic shift from young to old poses a once-in-a-millennium opportunity for smart entrepreneurs, investors, startups and existing companies to design the next generation of tools that enable older adults to live fully and well throughout their extended lifespan.
Older consumers are fueling the sizzling hot global “anti-aging” market, which, according to Research and Markets, will reach $300 billion by 2020, much of that driven by baby boomers seeking new ways to look and feel young. I’d like to add an important caveat. The “new old” are not interested in clunky, big-number phones or tools designed specifically for “old people.” They want what everybody else wants: sleek and attractive looking tools that don’t scream “I’m old.” But they also require devices that are well-designed for aging adults and that are effective and “seamless,” requiring little fuss or bother.
Smartphone ownership is the one area where older people are falling behind: owning a smartphone drops off at age 65. As of 2016, 27% of people over 65 owned one—that figure represents an 8% increase since 2014. In contrast, 85% of 18- to 25-year-olds own a smartphone. Since so many health devices and apps are linked to smartphones, it limits their use among the older age group. This is a shame and we need to do something about it. From the perspective of mobile providers and communications companies, the aging population represents a potential and large new market. Maybe it’s time to get over “ageism” and design some products that appeal to this generation—and that includes better smartphones!
Despite significant progress—especially among baby boomers—there is still a demonstrable age gap within the older population itself in how these technologies are being used to improve health. The people who could benefit the most from connected health technologies—the oldest and sickest among us—are not yet using them. I would argue that the reason these technologies have not gained traction among many older adults is not the fault of consumers, but rather can be attributed to poorly designed devices that fail to meet the needs of the market.
Praise for The New Mobile Age
“The baby boomers are beginning to transform aging itself—and Joe Kvedar has a clear and compelling vision about how their healthcare must evolve.”
“If we follow Joe’s lead in The New Mobile Age, we will catalyze a transformation in how the healthcare system interfaces with the aging population and, along the way, we will improve care for all.”
“The New Mobile Age provides a framework for how to create innovative, connected health tools to better care for our aging population, support our caregivers and improve our healthcare system to benefit all stages of life.”
“Joe Kvedar provides the vision, insight and inspiration for creating connected health tools to improve and extend the human healthspan. We all should follow Joe’s lead, to fi nd solutions to address population aging, one of society’s most urgent challenges.”
“Joe Kvedar shows how the right digital health technologies can support our aging population, not just to live longer, but to live better, while better utilizing our healthcare resources.”
“Dr. Joe Kvedar shows us how new connected health technologies will disrupt aging in ways previously unimaginable, bringing us incredible opportunities to choose how we want to live and age.”