Future of Geriatric Care- Opportunities and Trends in Focus

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By Chief editor

Posted on December 1, 2023


5 min read

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Future of Geriatric Care- Opportunities and Trends in Focus

This year, 2023, India became the most populous country in the world. This also brought to the fore the urgent need for India to focus on the diverse demographics within. The demographic transition globally has led to a rise in the elderly population worldwide and India isn’t far behind. The advancement in healthcare over the recent half a century has directly led to an increase in overall life expectancy. And with the statistics in sight, it is expected that the global elderly population will constitute 16% of the entire world by 2050.

So, have we been ramping up elderly support across the globe to meet the numbers? Are there enough elderly care, better known as geriatric care professionals available for caregiving? Is technology being relied on to make lives easier for them? How does the future look and what are the trends that are moving this sector? Let’s find out.

Geriatric Care is a primary need

Healthcare for elderly citizens for many years was seen as a secondary level segment but now with the numbers moving the needle, it is high time they find a place in primary prominence. The costs involved with caregiving for elders are high and many children globally fall in a category where they have to take care of their elderly parents and their young children, simultaneously. Hence, it is even more important than ever before to ramp up devices that can meet elderly needs with skill, talent, and empathy.

Is elder-tech the answer?

While the number of senior citizens is on the rise, the number of health providers and caregivers is not. This has led the world to look at inventive solutions and with the advent of digital technologies and artificial intelligence, researchers believe that there is a significant potential for the development and expansion of elder-friendly technology that can help the older generation live autonomously and more independently with little or no reliance on another human being. The idea is to let older people live independently for much longer. These technologies include augmented and virtual reality, smart homes, tech solutions for all internet-connected devices, and wearables that help track any physical or mental disorder.

Elder-tech or age-tech is said to have the potential to aid care and support and meet the gap of human caregivers.  Hence development in robotics and AI can help hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living, reduce time taken in acts of service, and also enable faster support in times of emergencies.

How successful has elder-tech been?

So why has age-tech not caught on as much as we assume it would have? A study published in MIT Technology Review by James Wright, a research associate at the Alan Turing Institute sheds light on the same with a scenario from Japan and how tech for geriatric care can be expensive and, in many cases, even impractical.

Robear was developed in 2015 in Japan and was meant to be for private homes and assisted care facilities. But unfortunately, the technology didn’t take off. The reasons show us the limitations of tech in this sector and the need to combine tech and human support to find the best solution.

The study showed that more often than not the robots ended up giving more work to the human caregiver than providing solutions and reducing time spent. They required a lot of care to function themselves, including being transported, maintained, cleaned, operated, and explained to the users, as well as being constantly monitored. They couldn’t save human labour as was the mission.

Growing need for geriatric care professionals

As the elderly population increases, the number of geriatric care professionals who can provide for them is shrinking and this has led to a global demand for trained resources who can work in various roles in this sector. You could be a technologist working for age-tech or you could be a geriatric care healthcare assistant, opportunities are boundless. But what we need to agree on is, that while care robots can help, they can never replace human caregivers.

Even as smart solutions as being adopted and seem to be the future of geriatric care, the humans needed to manage these services are also in high demand. In fact, studies have clearly shown that while elders can easily use technology to ease their lives, they prefer close personal interactions and connections with human professionals, instead of relying on telemedicine or robotics.  Geriatric care is all about kindness, empathy, and healing which makes the human quotient even more important in this journey. Geriatric care isn’t merely about providing mental and physical diagnosis and treatment but it’s also about granting care to entire generations who feel lonely and isolated. Companionship is a major factor in this segment and there is no equivalent for humans.

Entrepreneurship in geriatric care

The global elderly care market is slated to reach USD 2,882.66 billion by 2030 as per a Data Bridge Market Research report. The prospects in geriatric care do not just stop at the job opportunities available for on-the-ground support but also in the generation of ideas that could revolutionise the way we look at senior caregiving. From mobile medical services, travel customized for elderly, insurance support specific to them, and nutrition support, to creating research facilities for medical advancements, no idea is small.

So, if you are wondering about picking up a training programme in geriatric care, there is no better time than now to hone some skills and talents that can provide you a global advantage in one of the biggest employing industries in this world.