January 09, 2015

Senior using a laptop

As the number of older Americans increases, tech companies are beginning to focus on them. Credit: ArtAndFeminismNYC-Generations / Wikimedia Commons

There are more Americans 65 and older than ever before, but many businesses have overlooked this growing group – and their wallets.
 
This isn’t a deliberate oversight. Often, young entrepreneurs are unaware of the issues facing older people, says Time correspondent Katy Steinmetz. “Innovators tend to be very young and they tend to be coached to solve problems they’ve encountered in their daily lives. That’s why there’s more focus on making it easier to order a pizza than making it easy for an 80-year-old to make a video call."

Slowly, though, that pattern is changing, and a host of new startups have begun targeting the specific problems older Americans face.
 
The social networking site Stitch, for example, helps address the loneliness that aging adults face, especially as more of their friends and family pass away.
 
“They’re not a dating website,” says Steinmetz. Instead, “they very much market themselves as ‘we’re here to help connect seniors to other seniors so they can go out and see a movie.'”

Beyond a simple website, tech is infiltrating the everyday lives of people of all ages. Seniors who want to continue living independently will need to familiarize themselves with technology, argues Steinmetz. Tech, she explains, is “our modern currency.”

“You need it to live. There’s some bills you can only pay online.”
 
Live!y is another company aimed at helping seniors with better tech. They've turned the personal alarms we all remember from infomercials and turned them into smart watches, complete with pill reminders and pedometers.

With a plethora of new products and services aimed at the 55+ market, companies may be at the beginning of a gold rush.
 
“While 70 and 80-year-olds might not be looked at as the sexiest, trendsetting consumers, they’re going to represent a huge chunk of the marketplace,” Steinmetz adds.

Culture, technology, Katy Steinmetz, startups

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