The “life course” model provides a framework for businesses and entrepreneurs. They can look at the different stages and develop propositions to help individuals within each stage. They can focus on the transitions from one state to another. Can they develop businesses that will help individuals make those changes a success? Can they make money doing either?
Opportunities within a Life Stage
Most people would like to age within their homes. One alternative to acheive this is intergenerational living. They can invite in younger people, often students, to share their home. The older person gets help and social stimulation. The young student gets cheaper housing in exchange. Matching sites such as Nesterly.com have emerged in the USA. They will do background checks and try to find a suitable fit.
Ageing at home often means social isolation. Other businesses have been started to break down the loneliness. Companies like “Wider Circle” in the US focus on creating face to face local groups. The groups come together to exercise but also to provide mutual support. They take on responsibility for each other’s health. The cost of such services is being borne by employers or health insurance companies. Both have a vested interest in having healthier older people. Employers know the strain and distraction that comes when their employees become carers (Newsletter #086 “The Longevity Dividend III”). Health insurance companies know how dangerous loneliness can be (Newsletter #095 “Loneliness”).
Telehealth is full of opportunities for businesses to help individuals stay at home. COVID 19 provided a massive boost to the sector. Physicians realized the potential of remote medicine. Teladoc.com offers telemedicine internationally. Many in the sector are working towards a “hospital at home”. This would provide a remote monitoring and a care system. Designed to allow people, especially older people, to recover from treatment and operations at home. Even Uber and Lyft have created dedicated verticals. They provide medical transportation.
When ageing at home is no longer an option then the care sector has to take over. The sector provides safe and secure environments that fit patient needs. The sector often involves a hierachy of service. Each home provides a different level of care. Patients move from home to home. The Japanese model includes single care facilities that range across these levels. Each covers the lightest possible “assisted living” to the most intensive “nursing home”. Individuals can have one “home” for the balance of their lives. Many are now expressing the wish to die within that “home” rather than in hospital.
Opportunities within the Transitions
In previous Newsletters I have talked about the impact of becoming a carer. People take on huge responsibilities with no prior experience. It often happens without a conscious decision (Newsletter #086 “The Longevity Dividend III”). The 2021 UK Census showed 5m people providing unpaid care. Many are juggling jobs and family. 1.5m are providing more that 50 hours per week of care.
Businesses all over the world are being created to try to help. Some focus on the “steady state”. They are creating communications platforms. These allow everyone involved with an individual to share information (Vesta Healthcare.com). The doctors, the professionally care worker and the “volunteers” can all be update. Others businesses offer guides for the transitions. Many focus on becoming a carer. They provide guidelines and a portal to information. Others offer students and trainee nurses the opportunity to help. To provide a respite for family members. (Papa.com) . Bronze Software Labs in UK has developed special regional maps based on sophicicated geographic algorithms. “Project Tribal” as is called, allows the identification of all sources of potential care for a loved one. It identifies the state, charity and local groups that can help. It provides the infrastructure for someone to remain in their home.
Businesses are also emerging that focus on other transitions. How can a move from the family home to any kind of “institution” be managed? This is a complex task often involving the whole family. It has financial and social implications. It has practical problems like closing down a family home. It has highly charged emotional issues. For example how to "manage" an older loved one into the new environment (Newsletter #114 “Taking Control of Life”). A series of web delivered offerings are available. They provide appropriate guides and checklists. These include everything from choosing a care home to arranging removal services (Wellthy.com). They can provide people to help such as project managers.
Other transitions are as fruitful as sources of business opportunities. The need to retrain or re-educate is a major point of departure. Businesses have been created to try to help find and fund courses.
Roles not just Life Stages
Susan Golden in her book highlights that to understand the business opportunities it is important to focus on roles. There are more than not just life stages. The trajectory of stages will fail to capture the subtlety of the issues faced by an individual. She first argues that within a life course we can repeat a life stage. For example, we can return to education and training. We can divorce or lose a partner and be “setting up a new home” again. Household formation in Japan has until very recently been increasing. The population has been declining. However there has been a huge demand for single person properties.
She also focuses on the roles through which an individual develops. Someone can be playing multiply roles at any point. They can be becoming a carer for an ageing parent. They can be a parent for younger children. They can be on the point of changing careers all at the same time.