By 2050, the worldwide proportion of people aged over 60 will almost double from 12% to 22%. Governments, individuals, cities, communities and firms are all looking to find new solutions to adapt to the impending greying crisis. Fortunately, we are currently witnessing a great plethora of social innovation initiatives for seniors that demonstrate conclusively the ability of humanity to adapt to and cope with impending events. We note how ageing and health seem to blend together based on our look at the following 8 inspiring examples of social innovations for seniors.

 

 

RENDEVER

Globalisation, technological developments and improvements, urbanisation, migration and society as a whole influence the way seniors interact with one another in direct and indirect ways. Rendever is a remarkable example of an initiative that is working towards addressing the social issue of isolation, by stimulating seniors to become more interactive with the aid of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. There’s no disputing that VR is an outstanding technological advancement that brings excitement back into people’s lives. The company is committed to building virtual and augmented reality experiences for seniors residing in assisted living communities. How does it work? Seniors can either control the experience themselves or take it to a whole new level, with the participants in groups led by programming teams. Aligning technology with the needs of older populations is a concrete example of social innovation, so it’s a huge bravo to the Rendever team for giving seniors a window to parts of the world they are missing and for tackling the issues of depression, loneliness and isolation!

 

eatwell

Eating is normally an easy task for the great majority of people. Yet, the cognitive and various sensory impairments that arise with dementia can create problems with eating. Sha Yao, inspired by a number of issues caused by Alzheimer’s, introduced Eatwell in 2017 as a solution to eating-related problems. Eatwell is an assistive tableware set designed to help seniors with cognitive and motor impairment maintain their ability to eat independently. How does it work? The Eatwell Assistive Tableware Set uses a ‘bright, solid two-color tone design specifically selected to stimulate thirst and appetite, and reduce visual confusion based on scientific research. Each set includes a unique combination of over 20 assistive features, including slanted basins, angled sidewalls, expanded rims, ergonomic handles, anti-tip and anti-slip structures.’[1] Interested in purchasing a set for a loved one? Here is a link to the shop.

 

EasyPill

During our twilight years it becomes more and more difficult to carry out daily tasks. Managing medication is just one of the many problems faced by seniors, yet it is a hugely important part of their lives. There can be many reasons for seniors failing to take their medication as prescribed, with vision and swallowing problems, memory or hearing loss, isolation and income being prime examples. What if there was a product or service capable of enabling seniors to take their medication without the help of a caregiver? EasyPill seems to have the potential to change the whole system. It ‘utilizes modern technology to give elderly individuals the sense of independence they desire while also giving their family peace of mind. It demonstrates how patience, family, pharmacist, and doctor will be involved in the event and future medical system will develop. EasyPill is a smart cloud medical system composed by a pill reminder, an exclusive application, and a cloud data base.’[2] EasyPill not only helps seniors take their medication at the right time but also brings several other benefits for their emotional well-being. Doesn’t the power of technology look promising for a better and more socially inclusive future?

 

ActiveProtective

Did you know that falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide? From the World Health Organization, ‘each year an estimated 646,000 individuals die from falls globally of which over 80% are in low- and middle-income countries.’[3] The vast majority of those suffering the highest proportion of fatal falls are aged over 65. Yet one company is currently striving to transform the ageing experience. ActiveProtective aspires to reduce seniors’ chances of fracturing a hip as a result of falling with the use of a single belt! The company has developed a ‘fall-in-progress’ technology that automatically deploys airbags over the hip when a fall is detected. Not bad for a belt, right?

 

The Green House Project

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can seriously impact on the health of our senior citizens. Nobody relishes the prospect of not having a spouse, friend or family member by their side during difficult times. What if you were able to live somewhere where 10–12 people also lived, loved, laughed, cried and, on top of that, received nursing-level care? The Green House Project exists to shift the boundaries of caregiving. What makes it innovative? The project creates caring homes for meaningful lives for elders in an environment that ‘encourages personal growth and enables elders to continue to pursue their interests and passions (…) respects flexible routines and personal preferences[4] and ‘nurtures a familial experience around a common dining table’.[4] The Green House Project is set to fill the gap of social isolation that an overwhelming majority of seniors face nowadays. Here, there is not even a shadow of doubt that it will succeed since every senior citizen in every community is human.

  

Lumosity

Forgetfulness is a common complaint among many people, especially as we get older. Who hasn’t forgotten a phone number, misplaced a set of keys or gone blank when trying to remember someone’s name? Memory is closely linked with ageing, and as we grow older it can start to fade. Aside from ageing, memory issues are linked to medical conditions, mild cognitive impairment, emotional problems and dementia. Yet what if there was a way to improve memory, increase focus and find peace of mind, all with the use of an app? Lumosity is an app, designed by neuroscientists, which helps users train their cognitive abilities. By spending a few minutes a day, seniors can exercise and sharpen skills that they use every day, such as memory, attention, flexibility, speed and problem solving. Brain training has no age limit and can bring tremendous benefits. Does it work? Try it out and let us know!

 

Red Button Alarms

Worried about how to take care of your loved ones? Personal alarms provide an innovative solution to taking care of seniors. Red button alarm systems are specifically designed for seniors, frail or disabled individuals who may be left feeling helpless. The majority of seniors in need lack the ability to hire a personal caregiver at home. Yet what if there was a way to feel secure while alone at home and in the event of an emergency, someone would call your friends, family or even an ambulance and direct them to your place of residence? Well, that is pretty much what red button alarms do. How do they work? By pressing the red button, which is worn around the wrist or neck, seniors in need are immediately connected to the specific organisation responsible for the red button alarm system. Vital Call is an eminent example of a red button alarm system provider for seniors. They ensure personal assistance in the event of an emergency, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Feeling safe yet?

 

eSight

Vision loss among seniors is a major health care problem. Based on a worldwide estimation, approximately ‘1.3 billion people live with some form of vision impairment.’[5] Another interesting fact is that ‘approximately one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65.’[6] eSight seems to have a breakthrough solution for people suffering from a visual impairment. The company notes that it ‘is the only clinically validated device, in existence, that enables those living with vision loss to see, be mobile, and engage in virtually any Activity of Daily Living. Almost instantly after putting them on, an individual with low vision can see in virtually the same manner as someone who is fully sighted can.’[7] Wondering whether eSight could benefit you or a loved one? Why not complete an express eSight screening here.

 

Learn more at Social Innovation Academy

Why Social Innovation Academy? Social innovation is increasingly being perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to a better future, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high-quality training on what social innovation offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice.

Social Innovation Academy aims to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you’re interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our Friends, apply to become a member of our Global Advisory Board or follow us on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here!

 

 

 
References:
 
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
 

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