Loneliness can affect many of us at any stage of life. Young people just starting off life in a big city, a new mother home with a colicky baby or even teenager struggling to fit in at school. However, loneliness affects those at the later stages of their life in acute and profound ways. Creating a means by which to explore and discover new friendships is the group – older, probably retired, possibly living alone – that is the market for the winner of the Innovating for Ageing competition, held last week in London.
Last week the finalists in the Innovating for Ageing competition took to the stage to demo their products and services at a ceremony hosted by David Baddiel. The idea behind the competition was to catalyse a community of innovators to focus on the market of older consumers, with a particular focus on vulnerability. Entries were grouped in the following categories:
- End of life planning
- Identifying vulnerability
- Digital exclusion
- Isolation and loneliness
- Money matters
- Surprise us! (miscellaneous)
The ultimate winner – The Chatty Café – is a low-tech solution to a high cost problem, loneliness. The negative outcomes of loneliness – from its impact on health and wellbeing to decision-making – are important to understand and address. At the core of the product is the recognition of a problem (loneliness, which, of course, does not only apply to the elderly) and a solution based on that recognition. The scheme encourages cafes to have a ‘Chatter & Natter’ table so that customers who want to engage with other customers can do so. The goal is to reduce loneliness and get people talking.
The other four shortlisted entries touched on many issues affecting older people today:
- Toucan – An app that lets its users share their bank balance status with a trusted friend or carer using a simple traffic light system that protects against financial abuse.
- Mycarematters – A social enterprise established to create an online tool that collects and shares a person’s non-medical needs and preferences so they can receive dignified and tailored care when they are no longer able to engage in these conversations.
- MySense – A digital health monitoring and alerting analytics platform that ingests data from a number of fixed and wearable smart devices to understand when there is a decline in an individual’s wellbeing.
- Walk With Path – Fighting against diminishing mobility and falls, Walk With Path makes mobility aids for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s. The solutions are user-centred, hands free and intuitive to use.
In keeping with the remit of the challenge, the focus of the shortlisted entries was very much on identifying and supporting the needs of at-risk older people
The potential, however, of this nascent group of innovators, in terms of the challenges to be addressed, is so much greater. There is a lot a living, working and creating be done from the age of 55 until the end of life and, increasingly, that involves living longer and shifting goals and aspiration.
We created FinTECH4Life with that very goal in mind, to convene a community of innovators from across financial services (and beyond) and to kick-start more focus on the Over 55’s. We know that once inspired and informed about the scale of the opportunity, that the next new wave of innovation is on the near horizon .
Find out more and join us at FinTECH4Life on the 15 of May.