The number of people aged 60 years and overgrow is estimated to grow over the next few years. In Hong Kong, the number of people aged 65 or older will reach 2.58 million by 2064, equivalent to more than a third of the city’s current population.
The region currently has the highest life expectancy in the world – 84.3 years – which cause enough for celebration as it reflects an impressive healthcare system.
However, this means that older people tend to be heavier users of healthcare services. The challenge is enabling them to live independent active lives, within the means of the taxpayer and their extended families.
In September 2019, OpenGov Asia reported that to help solve this, the Hong Kong government earmarked HK$1 billion to procure, rent and trial new technology products that promise to improve the lives of elderly people.
A recent press release provided more information and updates on the state of gerontechnology in Hong Kong and how it is helping to enhance the lives of the city’s elderly.
A member of Hong Kong’s senior population became interested in how gerontechnology can help improve the quality of life for older adults. She joined the Gerontechnology Practitioner Training Course under Lingnan University’s Gerontechnology & Smart Ageing Project.
The course targets elderly people and caregivers. It introduces them to devices that help seniors get around with ease and live more independent lives.
An example is the smart walking stick which is equipped with senior-worthy features like a flashlight with an adjustable safety light, a siren for emergency use and a radio.
The citizen noted that she is grateful for the course because it allows her to learn more about gerontechnology in her free time. After class, the knowledge can be shared with others who have no idea about this new technology, she said.
Gerontechnology has also opened up career opportunities for young people.
A recent graduated from Lingnan University, who majored in marketing, set up a social enterprise called Gatherly in 2018. The platform provides a platform for the elderly to teach other people handicraft skills and helps them to sell their products online.
The graduate also joined the Socialpreneur Incubation Course under the Lingnan University project. It encourages the development of social enterprises in Hong Kong, gerontechnology and marketing. She quickly drew inspiration from other socialpreneurs.
She discovered that her social enterprise would need to change every two years according to market demands. For example, fabric bags are popular among youngsters. While the elderly at Gatherly are equipped with blue-dye techniques, she can make use of their skills to create products that match the market situation.
According to the Census & Statistics Department, in 2036, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 31%.
To meet the needs of an ageing population, the Government is promoting gerontechnology, which combines gerontology and technology. It focuses on providing effective solutions to increase vitality and quality of life.
The Lingnan University’s three-year project aims to enhance public understanding of gerontechnology and support smart ageing socialpreneurship development. The project also covers studies with the goal of building a database for gerontech products and services as well as social innovation and startups. The overall vision is to offer policy recommendations to the industry and Government.
The Project Manager of the Lingnan University Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies stated that most of the participating students are willing to think out-of-the-box, using their creativity and knowledge learned from their courses and to echo the needs of the society.
The aim is to facilitate different stakeholders and community partners to create a co-working atmosphere.
The university has also built a 2,000 sq ft Gerontech-X Lab to display over 40 gerontech products catered to healthcare, dining, living and transport.