The Silver Economy: An opportunity to improve quality of life
The ageing of the world's population is opening up new prospects and opportunities for the global economy, opening the door to the growth of the Silver Economy. This sector focuses on the provision of products and services for the mature population, i.e. those over 50 years of age.
According to UN estimates, by 2050, 16% of the world's population will be over 65 years of age. The forecast for Europe and North America is even higher, with the percentage reaching 25% by the same date. In Italy, the percentage will be higher still, ranging between 32% and 37%.
Longer working lives and the desire to maintain a good quality of life pose several challenges to technology to keep people motivated and engaged.
Active Ageing becomes crucial here, as it improves the quality of work, productivity and health of current and retired workers.
Active ageing is closely linked to the quality of the physical and mental life of older people. Being active means engaging in hobbies, volunteering, travel or work.
Multisensory and digital experiences offer exciting opportunities. Live virtual trips enable older people to explore new worlds and engage in stimulating experiences, even if they cannot physically participate. Digital communities dedicated to entertainment, companionship and mutual help generate a sense of belonging and support.
To address these challenges within the world of work, for example, there are a number of innovative solutions that serve workers by monitoring their working conditions through medical data and data on their emotional state, which, correlated with company self-assessment questionnaires, can reveal a complete picture of their state of health. One of the key issues in this context is the need for continuous reskilling due to adaptation to new market dynamics. In this framework, senior workers also have to be part of lifelong learning projects and this entails special consideration of the particular aspects of training, where immersive technologies and the metaverse can facilitate learning.
Age-friendly housing and Ageing in Place are solutions for improving the everyday life of older people. By promoting accessibility and the use of home automation technologies, the age-friendly home aims to offer innovative services in a safe environment. Ageing in Place, on the other hand, encourages older people to stay in their own homes within their own communities, thus strengthening their sense of belonging and security.
Robotics is set to play a key role in elderly care. Robots will be able to provide companionship and assistance, improving people's quality of life and supporting them in everyday activities. Home deliveries, through drones and autonomous robots, will become increasingly common for the delivery of medicines and essential goods.
Already in 2019, 38.2% of the over-65 population in Europe lived in cities, making it imperative for metropolitan areas to adapt to the physical and social changes associated with ageing. Age-friendly planning is crucial to cope with an ageing population and is based on three pillars: physical environment, social environment and local services that contribute to well-being, inclusion, sociality and active ageing.
Local governments are asked to pay special attention to designing sustainable, affordable, safe and accessible modes of transport. The adoption of technologies such as self-driving vehicles, for example, will improve the self-sufficiency of older people, while telemedicine and wearable devices will allow constant monitoring of people's mental and physical health.