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Find out what's already happening and consider what role you think you might want to play in working together with others to be as happy, healthy and independent as possible in later life.

Here you can read about recent news, examples of technological and social innovations and how they are enhancing people's lives, and hear the opinions of experts.

Many organisations and businesses are innovating to help older adults live more independent lives. But we feel there is still more to be done to ensure that services, products and businesses are ready to seize the opportunity

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Products and services for older adults need urgent innovation

The Technology Strategy Board and partners urge the UK to innovate so we can live independently for longer

79 per cent of Britons want increased innovation to improve quality of life in older age, according to new findings released today by the UK's innovation agency, The Technology Strategy Board. More innovation is needed to enable us to live independently for longer and today sees the launch of Tomorrow Together, a new campaign that aims to spark a national conversation about the future needs of older adults. People can take part in the discussion at tomorrowtogether.innovateuk.org.

Key findings

  • 90 per cent of people in the UK are not looking forward to older age
  • Nearly half of people (43 per cent) think that better products and services to sustain independence would change this
  • 79 per cent of people in the UK want more innovation in products and services for older age

A need for better products

A worrying 90 per cent of people in the UK are not looking forward to older age, the survey of over 2000 adults found, with concerns about health, mobility, wealth and social interaction ranking highly. Nearly half of people (43 per cent) think that better market products that sustain independence would change this.

With 80 per cent of wealth in the UK resting in the hands of over 50si, the poll highlights a notable market opportunity. Mike Biddle, Leader of the Assisted Living Innovation Platform at the Technology Strategy Board said: "There is an open goal for innovators, while the new parent market is flooded, consideration of the older adult market is distinctly lacking, despite their much greater comparative wealth."

"People should be demanding better products and services for later life. A lot of technology around us is purely functional - it's based on a need, not on desirability and relevance - and older life shouldn't just be about surviving, it should be about thriving and enjoying yourself as much as any other time in your life. The Tomorrow Together website is about encouraging people to talk about what they want in their later life."

Demand for social innovation

According to the survey, 41 per cent of people in the UK cite a lack of social interaction and new opportunities as their greatest concern in older age. Many saw later life as an opportunity for self improvement, with over a third (41 per cent) seeing later life as a time they would like to engage with others either through continued employment or volunteering.

Worries about remaining included within society are reflected in current UK findings on this matter; half of people aged 75 years and over live alonei while 3.1 million of over 65's do not see someone they know at least once a weekiii. Additionally, the Technology Strategy Board poll found that 40 per cent of people said being provided with access to more things to do and experience would improve their quality of life in older age.

These findings are particularly significant following the Department for Work and Pensions announcement of a "staggering" rise in life expectancy, predicting that a fifth of Britons alive today will celebrate their 100th birthdayiii.

Making change happen 

The Technology Strategy Board is working through its Assisted Living Innovation Platform to become a catalyst for an innovation revolution for later life and is working in collaboration with a range of partner organisations including the Design Council, the Department of Health and the Research Councils, to develop technologies and services that will enable individuals to live more independently in the way that they choose.

People are being invited to join the conversation at tomorrowtogether.innovateuk.org or on Twitter by following @TomorrowTogethr or the hashtag #innovateforage.

Jackie Marshall-Cyrus Lead Specialist on the Technology Strategy Board's Assisted Living Innovation Platform said: "We need urgent innovation. It's time for the talented, passionate brains of today to re-imagine and rethink for the future and work on tomorrow, together."

 



Comments

6 people have had something to say so far

Age related Macular Degeneration affects thousands of people every year we are designing a low cost, easy to use electronic magnifier that plugs into a standard television that will help people with failing sight to be able to read and write again so not have to rely on other people to read sensitive mail. We are Pamtrad Customs and welcome any comments. Phil W.
Posted on 27/01/12 17:43.
I am very excited about this campaign and can't wait to see how it develops. I wrote a blog and tweeted back in December about 'There must be more to life than beige!'. Just because you need a grab rail in the bathroom, it shouldn't have to look like you've just picked it up from the local A&E! We are a new company, Age Enable (www.age-enable.com) selling daily living aids and I must confess that most of the products we currently stock are fairly utilitarian! However, we're on the lookout to find stylish products for the older generation that we can offer to our customers and so we're really looking forward to seeing what comes out of this campaign.
Posted on 30/01/12 17:01.
Couldn't agree more with the design comments by Mike Biddle. I chair a not for profit organisation called LASSeO and we are trying to deploy a product called SNAPI that sets and stores personal acessibility options on smartcards so that public devices can respond to us the way we want them to (and to drop back to defaults after we've gone). It handles fonts, colours, voice, language, special instructions, etc. At present it is based on the MS accessibility options but tomorrow - who knows. Looking for partners to adopt it.
Posted on 31/01/12 15:37.
I welcome this TSB initiative.

Particularly in the present state of the economy, it is essential to encourage oldies who are able and interested to do so to pass on their wisdom and experience, whether it is in mentoring small companies or helping to build the Big Society. There is the potential of a whole third age after retirement, and it is important that we help and encourage retirees to remain active and involved in a fast changing world rather than becoming a drag on the country���s welfare programme.

A couple of friends and I have started a not-for-profit website called Retirement Reinvented (www.retirementreinvented.com), whose aim is to make better use of the experience and expertise of people who are retiring younger (in terms of fitness if not in years!) than formerly, to benefit both themselves and the community. It is a compendium of activities and interests for retired people, contributed by its users, with particular emphasis on voluntary and paid work after retirement, as well as sections on health, travel and ���managing money���.

We would welcome more users of the website, particularly when they contribute their views, and would welcome partners in our efforts to reinvent life after retirement!


Graham Ross Russell

graham@retirementreinvented.com
Posted on 01/02/12 10:07.
Whilst innovation is desperately needed there still needs to be a cultural revolution in both how we as a society perceive older age and what it means for us as well as how older people perceive interventions which are outside of the 'usual' stuff we deal with on a daily basis.

We also have to be careful when designing products that we take into account whether people will actually use them or not - the 'hassle' factor. For a lot of people this is the biggest barrier to living independently.

Like most of us workers, the more generic things are the more useful and indespensible they become.

Whilst innovation is desperately needed there still needs to be a cultural revolution in both how we as a society perceive older age and what it means for us as well as how older people perceive interventions which are outside of the 'usual' stuff we deal with on a daily basis.

We also have to be careful when designing products that we take into account whether people will actually use them or not - the 'hassle' factor. For a lot of people this is the biggest barrier to continued independent living.

Like most of us workers nowadays, the more generic things are the more useful and indispensable they become. A specific device designed for a sole purpose can quickly become one which looks really good and has a lovely long permanent life in a drawer or a cupboard or a shed.

For us mere youngsters (50 and under) the smart TVs will un/fortunately be the hub of a lot of our lives over the coming years due to its ability to be everything that we ever desire - TV, Stereo, PC, Cinema, Videophone, Photo Album, Telehealth & Care portal, Question Answerer (the magic of the search engine) and all round best friend.

What is the 'smart TV' for a vast majority of middle aged 51 - 75 and older people 76+ NOW? Unfortunately I believe the answer is people. And by unfortunately I mean we have built up a reliance on others around the concordat that 'you will always be cared for'.

This does not tally with the unsustainability of the current NHS (and the instability of the potential future of the NHS); the push on independent living; the aim of care services to reable/re-enable as opposed to 'do for'; our migrant families in the world that is shrinking and becoming more accessible.

I would push more towards tools that enable the few to assist the many - Tele+whatever. But attempting integration of services and systems along the way in order to have one device that does everything you need.

Never forgetting that these innovations will be consumer led - consumer as in the individual or their families/carers. The days of mass purchase and provision by statutory organisations such as local authorities and healthcare providers are drawing to an end so a technology shop in the high street that sells goods as well as services from multiple suppliers specifically targeting the older populous is necessary. NOT a mobilty shop; not a Disability Living Centre - it needs to be a 'normal ' shop that you would pop in and see, touch, feel, try products and find out information on the services behind some of them just like some of the current high street technology shops that cater for the IT generation.
Posted on 22/02/12 12:43.
I will be 89 tomorrow but still feel the same way about life as at 22. If one can be as lucky as me,now and only need beer and a bicycle to keep life wonderful. Keep away from doctors and hospitals and remember that worry and anxiety are the real klillers.
Better to be lucky than clever��!
Posted on 09/06/12 17:03 in reply to Portal Admin.