Social Enterprises to solve the issue of aging population

I was very excited heading to Net Impact’s speakers’ series today. One of the featured social entrepreneur today is Johnny Wang, a U of T alum graduated with a civil engineering degree. U of T rocks!

Since my iPad just synched and I lost all of my notes, I will simply type down major learning points from the seminar. Website link for this social enterprise – iHealth – is provided below.

http://www.ihealth.com.tw/

1) We have to try to understand the issues of aging societies. Out of 39 OECD counties, 35 are already aging societies. (When a society has 7% of the population> 65 years of age, it is defined as an aging society. ) To have everyone live longer is a good thing, to deal with the social implications of longer lives is another. An aging population would mean we have less active labor to support elders. Taken Taiwan as an example, in 2022, there would be 4.5 workers supporting 1 retiree; In 2032, this ratio will become 3 to 1. Having such a high percentage of “old people” walking around is unimaginable, not to mention its impacts on taxation and local healthcare system. To deal with the negative consequences of aging societies, Japan and Sweden have come up with many innovative solutions . Many countries are now trying to replicate those solutions, while modifying them to fit the local ecosystems.

2) Aging societies create tremendous opportunities for social entrepreneurs to explore, from flexible long term insurance plan, medical information platform, to meal delivery services, caretaker training and certification. This industry is only going to grow, not to shrink. If you are a driven entrepreneur, don’t wait. Start paying attention to opporunities in this emerging industry. In fact, I would love to do more research and learn about upcoming trends in serving elders.

3) There are A LOT to learn about the elderly service industry. Many young new graduates, including myself, are not well-aware of the problems and solutions currently exist in this sector. After all, who would want to think about getting old when he/she’s still young? However, one day we would all have to face these issues, one way or another. When our parents are old, we could be caring for 4 elders at a time. (my parents and my future husband’s parents) It’s not only a social pressue, but practical family pressue. I wonder how we could educate the youth today and prepare them for critical future tasks.

Let’s hope social innovations give us some answers here.

3大學習點:

1)我們必須盡量了解老齡化社會的問題。出於經濟合作與發展組織的39個國家中,35個已經是老齡化社會了。 (當一個社會的人口年齡> 65歲的有7%,它被定義為老齡化社會。)讓每個人都能活得長久是一個很好的事情,可是處理長壽帶來的社會影響又是另一回事。人口老齡化將意味著我們必須用有限的勞動力去支持退休人群。拿台灣作為一個例子,在2022年,將會每4.5個在業勞動力要支持一位退休員工。而在2032年,這一比例將變成3比1。有如此高比例的“高齡人口”在街上走都是是不可想像的,更不用提它對稅收和地方醫療系統的影響了。為了應對老齡化社會帶來的消極後果,日本和瑞典已經提出了許多創新的解決方案。現在,許多國家都在試圖複製這些解決方案,同時對模式其進行有效複製,以適應當地的人文生態系統。

2)老齡化社會為社會企業家的探索創造了巨大的機會。從靈活的長期保險計劃,方便的醫療信息平台,到送飯服務,家庭看護的培訓和認證。與很多飽和的產業相比,這個行業必定要發展,而不是萎縮。如果你是一個有雄心的的企業家,不要等待,馬上開始關注這個新興的行業吧。其實,我個人也很想做更多的研究和了解老年人服務的未來趨勢。

3)許多年輕的新畢業生是不了解老人服務行業的。包括我自己。我們並不了解目前在這一領域存在著的很多看似無法解決的問題,和目前階段的解決方案,。畢竟,谁愿意在他/她還年輕時就去想變老呢?然而無論我們如何視而不見,有一天,我們都必鬚麵對這些問題。當我們的父母都老了,我們就必須要照顧4個老人- 我們自己的父母和我未來的丈夫/妻子的父母。這不僅是一個的社會的壓力,同時也是家庭的壓力。我不知道我們如何能教育現在的青年人,這為未來作準備的關鍵任務。

我希望我們能從社會創新中尋求答案。

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