An article in Fiscal Times, How Startups Art Profiting from Aging Boomers, describes how boomers and individuals in other age groups are creating new businesses and products that respond to the needs of people who are aging. Adult children may want to become acquainted with this business trend because products may pop up that are specially useful in the lives of elder parents. One product that I am considering for my family is CareZone (see right-hand illustration).
The April 4, 2013 piece, by Julie Halpert, points out that most boomers have a fair amount of money to spend on supportive devices if and when they are required. Moreover, it turns out that many of the people who are setting up aging-related businesses are themselves boomers.
I hope these businesses figure out a way to produce products that look like they are a part of “normal,” routine life for everyone, even if they are developed for elders. About a year ago I read about an especially interesting fact for product developers to keep in mind on Laurie Orlov’s Aging in Place Technology Watch. Orlov points out that people who are aging do not want to use products that look like they are for old people. Instead, they want products that look like anyone can use them but also have features that support a person as he or she ages.
In 2008, when my mother-in-law was given a personal response device to wear around her neck, we discovered that she only wore it when we were around. She hated it because it was ugly and did not look like jewelry. When she wore it with other necklaces it got tangled up. My husband finally canceled the alert system. We wondered how much more agreeable the device would have been if it had been a decorative trinket of some sort on a gold or silver chain.
The Fiscal Times article highlighted the business of Liz Emery, a 32-year-old who became a caregiver for her grandmother. Emery, distressed at the babyish bibs that her grandmother had to wear, started a business, Liz and Ett, that manufactures stylish smock-bibs for people who need support when eating. They are beautiful, and I’ve added a picture and linked to the website.