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UK Government endorses elderly tech to give people five more years of independent living

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The UK Government has launched a new strategy designed to boost the role of technology in the lives of elderly people.

A council of advisers dubbed the Longevity Council (LC) has been set up to help the UK make the most of the economic opportunities presented by an ageing society.

Co-chaired by health secretary Matt Hancock, it is composed of business leaders, health experts and others who will advise the Government on how to promote healthier living, while exploring how the UK can position itself to lead the world in the growing market for age-related products and services.

Technology to remind people when to take medication and improve means of communication with friends and family are among the innovations that could help the elderly, ministers say.

It is part of the Government’s plan to give older people five extra years of independent living by 2035.

Financial products aimed at helping people save for their retirement and well-designed, visually attractive home adaptations could also help older people.

There must be innovations in “new, thoughtful ways to support everyone to age well,” Hancock said.

“Business has a vital role to play in providing inclusive products and services that are attractive to our older population and can enable everyone to stay living at home for longer and keep active.”

In less than 50 years, the number of people aged over 65 is expected to nearly double in the UK, a demographic shift which the Government has been trying to tackle with the creation of the Ageing Society Grand Challenge.

Competitions will open soon for the £98 million Health Ageing Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to develop products and services that will help the elderly.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “More than 10 million people in the UK today can expect to see their 100th birthday, compared to 15,000 current centenarians.

“As more people live longer, we must ensure people can live independently, with dignity and a good quality of life for longer by harnessing the best technological innovation and advances to help.”

David Sinclair, the director of the International Longevity Centre think-tank, said: “With Brexit posing significant economic uncertainty, it is vital that the UK maximises every opportunity for growth.

“Our ageing society is an opportunity for growth which the UK can grasp. We could play a global leadership role if we get this right.

“Ageing is far too often portrayed as a drain on society.  Yet there could be a significant financial return for companies, government and individuals if we adapt our society to increased longevity. To maximise the longevity dividend, we must fundamentally adapt the way we work, live and play.”

In March this year, a report found that loneliness in the over-50s can be alleviated through the use of technology to connect them to their friends and family.

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