Thursday, December 8, 2011


We talk about the retirement years as the sunset years. Ironically, the silver-haired industry is really a sunrise industry, with opportunities aplenty for those who can see the potential in catering to a market that is growing exponentially. From 523 million people worldwide aged 65+ in 2010, the UN estimates the number will swell to 1.5 billion by 2050. This age group has needs that remain largely uncatered for. For those with the right entrepreneurial skills and experience, and of course money to invest, why not set up a business that provides products or services aimed at the seniors market?

Here are some areas you might want to consider:

Similar to babysitting services. Family caregivers can engage these eldersitters on an ad hoc basis to keep an eye on their elderly parents for a few hours while they nip out to run errands or take a short break from caregiving.

Comfort Keepers is a Singapore company that provides companionship and
eldersitting services for stay-at-home older adults. (Photo: Comfort Keepers)
Set up restaurants that cater to the health conscious. Most of the fare that is served in so-called vegetarian restaurants are often deep-fried and heavy on the salt. Or provide home catering for the elderly with the focus on nutritious food cooked the healthy way. Bakeries can have a section for seniors with special dietary needs. Think of pastries that are low on sugar, gluten-free and fat-free.

Providing nutritious meals can mean using healthier alternatives like
brown rice and yoghurt, and opting for healthier cooking methods.
Why do fashion designers invariably assume that older folks go for aunty and uncle type clothes? Department stores churn out shapeless garments in shades of gray and beige that most active 60+ers shun like the plague. It's time for a kindred spirit to pick up the challenge and pioneer trendy fashion for this age group. Let's not forget footwear too. Comfort is top priority of course but a close second is design. None of those matronly-looking types, please.

Most departmental stores stock clothes that make older adults look frumpy and matronly.
We have school buses and shuttle buses, why not senior buses or vans that provide transport for retirees who do not have their own car or are unable to drive? For an affordable monthly fee, these buses will send the elderly to the daycare centre and back on a daily basis.

Buses or mini-vans with low steps, wide doors and ramps 
for wheelchair access.
Be a specialist in making homes safe for the elderly. Think of all the thousands of homes that do not have ramps, grab bars, non-slip flooring or footlights. Elderly people are at-risk living in such homes.

Making the bathroom safe for the elderly.
The sky is the limit as to the type of SMEs we can venture into. As seniors ourselves, we have the advantage of understanding what senior consumers like us want and are willing to pay for. If you are looking for financial assistance to get started, check out what's available at SME Corporation Malaysia.

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