The youngest of the baby boomers--people born between 1946 and 1964--began turning 50 this year. It's a milestone heralding momentous social and economic upheavals on the horizon when this behemoth of a generation leaves the workforce and ventures into the territory of senior citizenship. Considering boomers make up about a quarter of the population, there's a wealth of business opportunity in serving this aging demographic, particularly when it comes to health care. Here are a handful of companies expecting to profit from the largest generation ever advancing toward old age.
This San Bruno, California-based company has its mark set on the $100 billion-plus in-home care service market which it serves via an online marketplace that connects people who need to find in-home care with nursing assistants, medical assistants, nurses and the like. People who need help with aging parents or disabled family members save money over using traditional agencies, and health care professionals can make more money with no middleman involved. CareLinx charges 15 percent to families who pay invoices through the platform and the fee covers the cost of time tracking, secure online ACH payment processing, and payroll tax services as well as a family adviser who helps families navigate the process of hiring a private caregiver. The startup also runs background checks on the platorm's caregivers and provides professional liability insurance, including property damage and bodily injury.
This San Francisco-based startup is a group of scientists and engineers working to develop new technologies for people with Essential Tremor and Parkinson's disease, a demographic that includes millions of people whose hands shake so much that just getting food into their mouths is a challenge. The company's premiere product is a rechargeable handheld device capable of stabilizing an attachment such as a spoon, fork, or tweezers. The device has built-in sensors that detect tremors and cancellation technology that eliminates, on average, 70 percent of a person's tremor.
This inexpensive system of Internet-connected sensors placed on objects within a person's home tracks activity so adult children can ascertain if a parent is taking their medication, opening the refrigerator, visiting the bathroom, or leaving the house. The sensors beam activity signals to a central hub with built-in cellular service which communicates with the Lively website family members can monitor. If activity levels are out-of-whack the company sends notifications to family members via email or text message. Lively also aggregates photos and messages family members post to social networks or via the Lively website and sends a printed mailer to the older adult twice a month. The San Francisco-based startup has garnered $7.3 million in funding to date.
Seniors often fall prey to fake charities, sweepstakes, investment scams, and shoddy products with exorbitant shipping and handling fees. True Link, a San Francisco Y Combinator alum, is working against such fraud with a pre-paid credit card linked to an online dashboard family members configure to set spending limits and block purchases at specific stores or merchant categories. The company, which is building a database of suspect merchants and scams, charges $10 a month for the service and alerts family members in the event of any suspicious activity. Since True Link began taking customers earlier this year it has been growing 200 percent a month, a company spokesperson tells me.
Every six seconds someone develops Alzheimer's disease--that's 5.4 million new cases a year--making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S. That's according to Elli Kaplan, co-founder and CEO of Neurotrack, a two year-old Palo Alto, California-based startup. Neurotrack has engineered software that uses infrared eye-tracking to detect damage to the hippocampus in the brain three to six years before symptoms appear and damage to memory and nerve centers is irreversible.
It works by examining how much time subjects spend looking at certain "novel" images within a series of images over a period of four and a half minutes. According to a longitudinal study, those with a brain unaffected by Alzheimer's spend more time looking at pictures they haven't seen before whereas all of those who spent an equal amount of time looking at both images developed the disease.
Neurotrack has received $2 million in Series A funding and is working with pharmaceutical companies on clinical trials with the end goal of having the test used annually in clinics. In development: a version of the test that can be administered over the Internet using a standard webcam.
Always Best Care
Always Best Care franchises in 185 U.S. territories provide in-home senior services including non-medical assistance with activities such as dressing, bathing and using the bathroom, assisted living referral services, and in select markets skilled home health care involving registered nurses and licensed therapists. Why would someone want to spend anywhere from $60,000 to $109,000 to buy a franchise? Always Best Care provides training, marketing support, and resources that help franchisees build their businesses while navigating the complicated and tightly regulated terrain of becoming an in-home care provider, a lucrative space given the aging population. The company has received multiple awards for being a top franchise and landed on the Inc. 5000 list of America's Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2012.