The stereotype that most older adults are not tech savvy is simply wrong: Four in ten older adults now own smartphones, more than double the number in 2013.

At the same time, many seniors and their families are experiencing a far more troubling trend. While the poverty rate among older people is declining nationally, the same is not true in New York City. Currently, one in five elderly New Yorkers lives below the federal poverty level of $11,670 annually for a single person.

These older adults face unique barriers in accessing social services, housing, and healthcare. And the people and organizations who care for them often bear unseen financial, physical, and emotional costs. To understand where technology could be a useful tool in addressing these challenges, Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood recruited a group of Fellows to research and build solutions that aim to help low-income older adults and their caregivers.

The Fellows spilt into five project teams, each of which received financial support and access to mentors, resources, and BRL’s Design Insight Group. On October 19th, the five groups presented their products to a group of community members, investors, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations.

Our Second Act

Just because you’ve reached retirement age doesn’t mean you’ve run out of great business ideas and the drive to put them into action. Our Second Act helps older entrepreneurs grow or start their own businesses by connecting them to like-minded entrepreneurs, small business development partners, and information on how to start a successful venture.

Hello, Caregiver

Every year, approximately 3 million caregivers provide more than 2.6 billion hours of unpaid care to loved ones — and that’s just in New York State. Many of these caregivers feel alone in their work, and don’t always know where to go for help. Hello, Caregiver is a free coaching tool that aims to address these challenges for people looking after older adults with dementia.

Turnstyle

Turnstyle is a new way for organizations and clients to get to know each other. Turnstyle has two products:

  • A universal intake tool that collects information from people, with a focus on friendliness and ease of use
  • A personalized mini-magazine that gives people a clear picture of exactly how an organization can help them reach their goals.

Turnstyle can be used by people of all ages, but it was designed with a focus on the unique needs of older adults.

Settle In NYC

After touring a number of senior centers and hearing about the challenges many older adults face when it comes to finding an apartment, the founders of Settle In NYC developed a tool to address housing discrimination. Settle In NYC is a text message system that enables users to document their experiences of discrimination and pass this information along to advocacy or legal organizations.

Masaryk Co-Lab

Masaryk Co-Lab was developed in partnership with a group of retired nurses from Masaryk Towers, a housing community on the Lower East Side. They are currently developing a computer lab and health management tools.

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