ICT can help older people to stay healthy, independent and active at work or in their community. In the EU, smart innovation with ICT is a must. Let us tell you why.
Europeans live longer than ever, but demographic ageing has its downsides. By 2060 one in three Europeans will be over 65. The ratio of working people to the 'inactive' others is shifting from 4 to 1 today to 2 to 1 by 2060 (source: the 2012 Ageing Report). Already by 2020 we will face up to 2 million vacancies in health and social care. For the EU between 2010 and 2060 total government spending on pensions, healthcare, long-term care, unemployment benefits and education will increase by almost 20 per cent (or 4.1 percentage points of GDP ), while expenditures for long-term care will double.
Demographic ageing cannot be solved by cutting health budgets or raising the retirement age. We need to reinvent health and social care. Smart innovation with ICT can help us achieve a triple win: more healthy life years for EU citizens, better and more efficient health care, and innovation and economic growth.
Smart innovation with ICT for ageing well
To achieve the triple win, we all must invest. Care has to be more patient/people centred, with more focus on prevention, early diagnosis and chronic conditions. Industry for ageing well must invest and innovate at a European level and scale – in close cooperation with users and consumers. And all of us must get smart and feel empowered to integrate ICT-products and services for ageing well in our private lives and professional practice.
ICT for ageing well does deliver, if we make it
There is a huge potential market for products and services for ageing well. Europeans over 65 already have a spending capacity of over €3,000 billion and the number of people with age-related impairments will grow from 68 million in 2005 to 84 million in 2020. Europe boasts an innovative ICT industry with large companies but also innovative SMEs, developing many new products and services.
Hard evidence is hard to get, but the first evidence is there, and more is to follow: lower costs, better, care, more job satisfaction for carers and a better quality of life for our citizens. The EU-funded CommonWell project and the UK's Whole System Demonstrator provide good examples.