The forgotten generation

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The forgotten generation

Chris Millington
Chris Millington

Chris Millington, UK & Ireland MD at Doro explains why he believes it is important to develop communication solutions to enable and empower the senior citizen to actively enjoy a better quality of life.

Social care for the older generation is now a primary focus for both businesses and individuals alike and thus we should all be thinking about the implication of this to create and capitalise on a better quality of living for the senior demographic now and for the future. Reiterating this concern, the Audit Commission recently released a document announcing that the £9bn annual social care bill is likely to double by 2026. The report also highlighted how tele-care was increasingly being used to provide electronic links between social services and older people still living in their own homes. The findings show that the senior consumer has become ever prominent, demanding goods and services tailored to their specific needs. This certainly produces an interesting proposition for retailers around the world.

Globally, there are in excess of 518 million people aged 65 plus and over the past 90 years the average life expectancy across Europe has risen from 55 years to over 80 today. This rising figure has increased the cost of healthcare for the elderly, which is now expected to triple by 2050. This shift puts a greater onus on the older generation to remain independent for longer and become more involved in personal technology. Market reports suggest that in the next 10 years the over 65 age group will account for 25 per cent of the world population. These figures show that the senior demographic are a group worth investing in, creating a worthy proposition for companies to produce adaptive products to meet growing demand.

 

In a world made smaller by advancements in technology, we are all eager to keep in touch with each other on a 24/7 basis and so it’s not surprising that mobile phones have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Traditionally, mobile companies have ignored the senior market, failing to recognise the requirements of the older generation. Likewise seniors themselves have added weight to this ignorance by often rejecting technology as too complicated. This is now changing. Senior consumers are increasingly using the Internet and other electronic means to keep in touch with their loved ones as part of their daily routine. Dubbed ‘Silver Surfers’, this group has huge market potential and buying power and are fuelled with a desire to learn and use products akin to their younger counterparts, but adapted for their own requirements. It’s therefore imperative that retailers are providing adaptive technologies to fuel this desire.

Whilst facts show that mobile phone ownership is increasing amongst seniors, it is important to note a clear distinction in this group. A survey recently commissioned by Doro in February this year highlighted that nearly 90 per cent of those in the age bracket 65-74 actually own a mobile phone, whilst only 66 per cent of those over 75 years of age do. The survey has also shown that most seniors with a mobile phone find the device is really not suited to their specific requirements, such as buttons that are too small to use or over-complicated function options. However, Doro’s survey also highlighted that the senior consumer is no longer afraid to embrace new technology providing the products on offer can be shown to truly benefit them in some way. Again, this creates the ideal opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to embrace.

Whilst eager to welcome new adaptive technologies, the ageing population will still face common and unstoppable deterioration. Mobility, dexterity, vision, hearing and memory capacity will all weaken as we get older. The Alzheimer’s Research Society UK recently announced that an estimated 35.6 million people worldwide would be living with some form of dementia by the time they reach 60. The report advised that 820,000 people are living with dementia in the UK today and that up to 25million people (42 per cent of the UK population) are affected in some way by dementia through a third party.

Doro believe it is important to develop communication solutions to enable and empower the senior citizen to actively enjoy a better quality of life. Doro has consequently invested heavily in a robust research and development programme to ensure we consistently deliver and improve our product range.

Regardless of the inevitable onslaught of old age, seniors have emerged as an allpowerful consumer group. They are in search of better health and lifestyle, reducing disease and increasing life expectancy. Doro recognises and respects this. As such the company has worked with leading ergonomic experts and award-winning designers to understand the specific needs of this dynamic customer segment.