A while back, I wrote about the potential within the retired community, to answer the needs of the retired community. There are plenty of professionals who are still very active and very capable who could pull together teams of people to create startups and answer the needs of the aging baby boomers.
I recently asked a number of colleagues if they had seen anything about using social media as a way to reduce isolation and depression and increased medical service utilization amongst the elderly. I personally did some checking and failed to find anything appropriate in the literature. It struck me that this would be an ideal area of interest for retired individuals to explore, as a business opportunity as well as a social service.
Today, I came across an article which specifically described a study on the effects of using Twitter amongst the elderly. Click here to see the article.
The research study described in this article found that such social conductivity was beneficial. It should be noted that Twitter is far from being the only type of social media around. There are many versions of socially capable software that could be used by anyone around the world. Don’t forget that using Skype, to reconnect old friends from opposite sides of the world, constitutes social connectivity, independent of whether Skype itself is called social media.
I think there is a tremendous opportunity to both improve the quality of life of a tremendous number of people and provide an improved income for a select few social media evangelists and reduce healthcare costs for the elderly [which are rising by the minute].
In Israel, the only way to connect to the full range of people over 65, is to speak the appropriate languages. Also, younger people might not appreciate the value of spending time with older people, teaching them such a “basic” capability as social media.
Contrarily, there are very likely a large number of people who are presently retired, who are very comfortable with social media and various human languages. Amongst these older people, there are definitely some who speak English, Arabic, Hebrew, Amharic, French, Russian and more. These people are clearly a tremendous resource just waiting to be developed.
If you take an individual who is, say, 70 years old, offer him or her some free training, and a lowish but respectable salary [6K? 7K? per month], you can have these elder teachers span out across their community and teach anyone who would like to learn. An additional few thousand shekels a month, is of far greater value to these older teachers than it is to a young person.
Of course, it does not have to stop at social media. There are plenty of brilliant people who have retired and are not active on a computer. Perhaps such an introduction to social media, would stimulate these individuals to want to learn more about computing. Today, when a 65-year-old person can expect to live another 25 to 30 or more years, there is still plenty of time to learn how to program and even how to set up their own startup. I have written about this in a previous blog post, that the best people to build tools for the baby boomers, are themselves baby boomers. They understand the needs and they understand the culture. The dramatic underemployment of elderly people is simply a lost opportunity.
I would say that the health ministry and the health funds could directly benefit from such programs. The initial investment would not be very large, and just a few less hospital admissions would make all the difference. Also, just a few truly successful startups coming out of the baby boomer population would change the way the whole world perceives the elderly.
I truly believe that this would work and that everyone of all ages would benefit.
Thanks for listening