The Future of Aging: How Businesses Can Prepare for the Future

The aging population is one of the largest demographics in the U.S. and accounts for a number of economic shifts. Here are four ways aging is changing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Air Date: September 29, 2020

Moderator: Carolyn Cawley, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Featured Guests: Nancy Leamond, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer, AARP, Ken Dychtwald, Founder and CEO, Age Wave, Ken Cella, Principal, Edward Jones, Noelle Marcus, Co-Founder and CEO, Nesterly, Joseph Coughlin, Director, MIT AgeLab, Dor Skuler, CEO and Co-Founder, Intuition Robotics

Statistics show the aging population is one of the most pivotal aspects of our economy, housing market and overall development. Studies show that for the first time ever in the U.S., we will have more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 18 by 2034.

In a conversation with Carolyn Cawley, present of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, experts presented data, business ideas and ingenuity that comes with an increased aging population. Here are four ways the future of aging is changing — especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statistics Say the Way We Retire Is Changing

Together, Ken Dychtwald, founder and CEO of Age Wave, and Ken Cella, principal at Edward Jones, conducted research titled “The Four Pillars of Retirement,'' which surveyed over 9,000 adults in the U.S. of multiple demographics and generations.

Their study found that the age of retirement has increased in recent years, and 3 in 4 working Americans were not on track with their retirement before the pandemic hit.

Even more concerning, 20 million Americans said they stopped contributing to their retirement savings during the pandemic.

“This obviously leads millions of people shy of their retirement goals and at risk – not a good situation,” said Cella.

What hasn’t changed is the need for financial stability in retirement.

“People want freedom from the things that worry them,” emphasized Dychtwald.

The Aging Population Is Looking to Give Back

The “Four Pillars of Retirement” survey found 89% of Americans feel there should be more ways for retirees to use their talents and knowledge to support communities and society at-large.

In fact, retirees and older generations are actively seeking ways to help out, with “3 out of 4 adults, age 50 and up, [having] volunteered in the past,” said Nancy Leamond, EVP and chief advocacy and engagement officer at AARP. “They want to give back, make an impact on their communities and help people in need.”

Additionally, studies show the elderly population look to leave behind a lasting legacy to their families and assist them as much as possible, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we're seeing here is Americans don't want to turn their backs on their loved ones … even if it could jeopardize their own financial future,” said Cella.

There Are Business Opportunities to Utilize Towards the Elderly Population

With the aging population being one of the largest in the world, experts argue that businesses are missing out on marketing opportunities by only catering to younger populations.

“Think of a longevity economy: It is not about ‘those old people,’” said Joseph Coughlin, director at MIT AgeLab. “It is not about big, beige and boring. It's about a new opportunity to create a new life experience.”

However, there are businesses and entrepreneurs that see the opportunities the aging population brings while seeking additional ways they can help out those in need.

Nesterly is a housing community between older empty nesters with sizable housing and younger generation tenants. This company brings generations together by providing companionship and company to the older generations while assisting the younger generation financially.

“It's critical that we find and support innovative solutions that enable aging in place, that reduce pressure on our country's healthcare institutions and provide new ways of supplementing income to those who are forced into early retirement because of COVID,” said Noelle Marcus, co-founder and CEO of Nesterly.

Tech Experts Are Innovating New Ways to Assist the Elderly

With the healthcare industry pushed to the limits and people restricted from seeing their loved ones, connection and assistance is needed in the elderly population more than ever.

Dor Skuler, CEO and co-founder of Intuition Robotics has created ELLI Q, an innovative artificial intelligence created as a social companion for older adults. This tech company has found promising results in giving the elderly a platform towards connection.

“We help older adults thrive in place to stay independent by offering some companionship, some alleviation of social isolation and the feeling of loneliness,” said Skuler. “We help them with wellness, such as meditation and health routines. We help them put a smile on their face with some humor, day-to-day utility and other functions.”


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