SA - the Silicon Valley of Modern Ageing?

 

Ageing is a common denominator for every individual. People over 65 represent a large and growing portion of the population in Australia and most advanced economies, and with demographic trends being one of the main drivers for investment decisions, both the public and private sector are turning their attention to modern ageing products, policies and services.

 

So, what is Modern Ageing?

 

“Modern Ageing is a new narrative, a new way of looking at getting older – a recognition that personal plans and aspirations don’t come to a sudden halt at the age of 65, a recognition that ageing presents an opportunity not a threat.” South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.

 

Modern Ageing is Aging Well.

 

Deriving mainly from the ‘baby boomer’ population, seniors in today’s society have growing consumer power and will be increasingly important members of our communities and even our workforces. With 85 the new 65, we are seeing a growing cohort of active, solvent and demanding individuals who are driving a new Modern Ageing industry based right here in SA.

 

Julianne Parkinson, the CEO of the Global Centre for Modern Ageing (GCMA) presented to the PCA’s Future Trends and Innovation Committee on 25 May. The GCMA is an SA-based not-for-profit organisation dedicated to advancing the Modern Ageing industry. From their Tonsley base in SA the GCMA collaborates with an international network of organisations to deliver new and improved products, services and policies to improve the lives of older people. According to Julianne Parkinson, “SA is already ahead of the curve in Modern Ageing research and has the ability to be the Silicon Valley of Ageing”.

 

There is growing recognition of the strong economic and social need to empower older people to age well, and enable them to continue actively contributing to society. According to ABS 18% of the Australian population, some 4.78 million people, are 65+, which is projected to more than double in the next 40 years. The 65+ population in SA already represents the highest proportion across all states at 22% or 390,000 people.

 

These figures don’t include the increasing importance of the 65+ cohort as consumers, investors and users of our public spaces and our properties. An increasingly active, discerning, equity rich 65+ population is an important segment of the population from the point of view of PCA members in SA, whether as clients, customers, employees or building users which could unlock many possibilities for the property industry.

 

In terms of homes the GCMA expects there to be increasing expectations to design homes which can adapt as people age. The GMCA is collaborating with industry players to co-design homes that are future-proofed for ageing and can discreetly adapt and accommodate geron-technology (products for people over 85) over time. “There is a tendency to group seniors into one stereotyped box, whilst this is one of the most individualistic demographic groups given their differing life experiences,” according to Julianne Parkinson.

 

Most people prefer to be near family and existing networks and stay in their postcode as they get older, but there is another segment who prefer communal living in a community. There are already established senior living products that cater for these groups at both the high-end and affordable end of the market, but as government policy focuses on encouraging living and staying in the home, only end of life care is expected to be in an institutional environment.

“People want to stay at home, but also it’s much more cost effective, according to Julianne Parkinson, which suggest we need to look at the preparedness of the home and design it for adaptability in the future (discreet additions as people age).

 

COVID has potentially accelerated certain trends and thought leadership in the Modern Ageing space, according to Julianne Parkinson. Over 65’s have adapted to technology faster and are more agile with technology. Uber, zoom, home delivery and telehealth have had the fastest take-up, but other sectors, including home design and accessibility and seamless integration of transportation needs to be developed, she says.

 

 

 

The Future Trends and Innovations Committee in are placing their focus on key ideas and opportunities that can help to transform the state leading into the 2022 Election. Looking at the worldwide trends across industry, demographics and policy, we are working on the ways that Adelaide and SA can be launched onto an international stage as an industry leader.

We will continue to hear from leaders in different industries to help develop these ideas, as we constantly advocate for innovation, growth and employment opportunities in South Australia.