Thursday, September 17, 2015

The sharing economy for seniors

When attending out-of-town conferences, my friend Sara saves big money by staying in a room at another person’s house through Airbnb. She swears by the lower cost compared to a traditional hotel room and the positive experience of getting to know her hosts.

Airbnb connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.

The site utilizes a secure payment system and offers a platform for both the guest and host to review each other so that others can benefit from their experience, similar to the way we securely buy items and rate them on Amazon. Airbnb is an example of the rise of the sharing economy, in which people rent beds, car rides or equipment directly from others via the Internet.

The great benefit of this type of economy is that owners make money from underused assets and renters pay far less for these services than they would in the traditional marketplace. Besides Airbnb, other sharing economy examples include DogVacay, where dog owners can leave their pet to be cared for; RelayRides, which enables people to borrow cars from neighbors; and SnapGoods, which is a site for lending and borrowing high-end household items.

The proliferation of these types of sites and services has me thinking: How could the sharing economy be used to benefit seniors?

Transportation to and from longdistance medical appointments for those who are wheelchair-bound can be very expensive using a traditional medical transport service. Personally owned handicapped vans are very expensive and are frequently underutilized.

One idea might be an Uber-like service where owners of handicapped vans are matched to those who need that service in areas not serviced by Dial-A-Ride.

In-home care can also be costprohibitive. In a sharing economy, the possibility exists for a family caregiver to leave a loved one with a nearby host who will take care of the loved one for a short period of time. This may not work for all situations, but over time, the online vetting and rating process will uncover viable options for lower-cost senior care.

The actual act of shopping and cooking is a challenge for some seniors. With a great many moms and dads cooking meals every night for their families, perhaps seniors could purchase extra meals prepared by those families. A homecooked family meal might seem like a blessing to some seniors.

Alzheimer’s caregivers often require respite for longer than a few hours to prevent their emotional and physical breakdown. What if assisted-living facilities offered their spare rooms to rent for a day or two so that the exhausted caregiver could have a weekend to recharge?

We all know the numbers: Seniors are living longer and there will be twice as many of them in the next 10 years. Finding creative solutions that respect a senior’s independence and budget via the sharing economy can be of great benefit to both seniors and caregivers alike.

If you have some good ideas, let me know about them.

When attending out-of-town conferences, my friend Sara saves big money by staying in a room at another person’s house through Airbnb. She swears by the lower cost compared to a traditional hotel room and the positive experience of getting to know her hosts.

Airbnb connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.

The site utilizes a secure payment system and offers a platform for both the guest and host to review each other so that others can benefit from their experience, similar to the way we securely buy items and rate them on Amazon. Airbnb is an example of the rise of the sharing economy, in which people rent beds, car rides or equipment directly from others via the Internet.

The great benefit of this type of economy is that owners make money from underused assets and renters pay far less for these services than they would in the traditional marketplace. Besides Airbnb, other sharing economy examples include DogVacay, where dog owners can leave their pet to be cared for; RelayRides, which enables people to borrow cars from neighbors; and SnapGoods, which is a site for lending and borrowing high-end household items.

The proliferation of these types of sites and services has me thinking: How could the sharing economy be used to benefit seniors?

Transportation to and from longdistance medical appointments for those who are wheelchair-bound can be very expensive using a traditional medical transport service. Personally owned handicapped vans are very expensive and are frequently underutilized.

One idea might be an Uber-like service where owners of handicapped vans are matched to those who need that service in areas not serviced by Dial-A-Ride.

In-home care can also be costprohibitive. In a sharing economy, the possibility exists for a family caregiver to leave a loved one with a nearby host who will take care of the loved one for a short period of time. This may not work for all situations, but over time, the online vetting and rating process will uncover viable options for lower-cost senior care.

The actual act of shopping and cooking is a challenge for some seniors. With a great many moms and dads cooking meals every night for their families, perhaps seniors could purchase extra meals prepared by those families. A homecooked family meal might seem like a blessing to some seniors.

Alzheimer’s caregivers often require respite for longer than a few hours to prevent their emotional and physical breakdown. What if assisted-living facilities offered their spare rooms to rent for a day or two so that the exhausted caregiver could have a weekend to recharge?

We all know the numbers: Seniors are living longer and there will be twice as many of them in the next 10 years. Finding creative solutions that respect a senior’s independence and budget via the sharing economy can be of great benefit to both seniors and caregivers alike.

If you have some good ideas, let me know about them.

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Tags: sharing economy

Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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