Nearly 90% of those over age 65 say they want to remain at home as long as possible, and many companies are trying to make it easier–or more pleasant–for them to live on their own. This summer a small company called Stitch launched a simple social network for seniors seeking companionship, trying to eliminate the loneliness that can lead to poor health. The company employs identity checks and opt-in messaging to protect users from fraudsters who trawl sites like Match.com.
Other companies are trying to make virtual connections and checkups easier. In September, Boston-based Oscar Tech launched two apps. Grandma downloads one of them, Oscar Senior, onto a tablet, and it condenses her operating system into a few basic functions like making video calls, and her grandson downloads the other, Oscar Junior, which allows him to manage her device remotely. Bay Area startup True Link Financial is offering a replacement for Grandma’s checkbook, a common target of swindlers. Its Visa debit card allows an older person’s child or caregiver to set limitations or get text-message alerts about suspicious activities, such as a $1,000 payment to QVC or a hefty cash withdrawal.