Longevity Network
  • Dec 07, 2016
  • Guest Voices

Guest Voices: Arthur Bretschneider of Seniorly on Changing the Way We Age: Making On-Demand Apps And New Technologies Work for Seniors

Guest Voices: Arthur Bretschneider of Seniorly on Changing the Way We Age: Making On-Demand Apps And New Technologies Work for Seniors

Self-driving cars, delivery drones and virtual reality have gone from science fiction to our streets. Just last month, a “friendly sidewalk robot” made its first delivery – a box of pastries – to a San Francisco resident. Alibaba, the massive Chinese e-commerce company, recently launched a platform that allows customers to use VR goggles to browse virtual shopping malls, and purchase items with a simple nod of the head. As these innovations begin to change the way we communicate, get around and do business, a large segment of the population has largely been left out of the technology revolution.

For years, those working in the senior space have lagged behind in the adoption of new innovations, technological solutions and government-driven data that could dramatically improve the services that we provide to our loved ones. I have witnessed this up close. My family has been running assisted living centers for over sixty years, and for most of that time, not much changed in the way in which we cared for and supported seniors.

But the tides are turning, and just in time.

There are already over 46.2 million seniors in the United States, and as the 74.9 million baby boomers age, seniors will represent an increasingly larger slice of the population pie. Estimates suggest that seniors, who now make up 14.5% of the population, will represent more than 20% by 2040.

Scott Smith, founder of San Francisco-based investment bank Viant Capital, recently explained, “The VC community has finally woken up to the fact that, next to millennials, [seniors] are the largest market in the world and it’s grossly underserved.”

Indeed, over the past few months, companies like HomeTeam, Honor, and HomeHero have raised more than $80 million to bring technology to improve the in-home care experience for seniors. In addition to bringing the latest technology to senior-specific services, many startups are expanding traditionally millennial-targeted tools to older populations. Stitch is a dating and companionship website that has become the Tinder for older adults, so now your grandmother can focus on her own love life instead of bugging you about yours. Envoy is an on-demand concierge service, like TaskRabbit, specifically designed for seniors.

Just last week, Home Care Assistance, the largest provider of in-home care, partnered with robotics company OhmniLabs to bring robots into the homes of seniors. These robots will allow seniors to stay connected with loved ones. Think of it as a Skype on wheels to start, but with the potential for innovation as the technology progresses.

Lyft has partnered with in-home care companies – including Home Care Assistance – as well as with Brookdale Senior Living, one of the largest operators of senior living facilities in the country, to bring on-demand rides via a concierge service to seniors.

These companies are disproving the misconception that seniors are either unable or unwilling to adopt new technologies. A recent focus group held in Berkeley also debunked this assumption, showing that most seniors used smartphones, shopped on Amazon, consulted Yelp, and booked restaurant reservations on OpenTable.

With Seniorly, families have opportunity to take virtual video tours of communities, check out reviews from across the web, compare costs, book in-person tours and pay for a short-term stay, similar to booking an Airbnb. This platform uses technology to empower families to make better decisions when searching for senior housing options and caregivers.

Technology innovations coming out of Silicon Valley will impact more than just our morning commute and take-out delivery order. It will dramatically improve the way in which we care for our aging loved ones, allowing them to live more connected, active, and empowered lives.

 

About the Author

Arthur is a 3rd generation senior housing operator and developer, and an MBA from the UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and has two young boys. Arthur is the founder and CEO of Seniorly. Seniorly has received wide recognition for its innovative approach to helping families find senior care & housing, and has been featured in: Huffington Post, Mashable, KQED, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Tribune, and the Silicon Valley Mercury News. Arthur was also recently named an Entrepreneur of the Week by the Longevity Network, a partnership between AARP and United Healthcare.

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