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Financial Products and Smart Care Systems Dominate 2016 Elderly Expo

Mainlanders are now starting to make financial plans for their old age far earlier than ever before, according to exhibitors at the Silver Industry Exhibition, while a new generation of digital elderly care products is also emerging onto the scene.

Photo: Shenzhen Glamour Bedding Supplies: Help for the elderly to sleep more soundly.
Shenzhen Glamour Bedding Supplies: Help for the elderly to sleep more soundly.
Photo: Shenzhen Glamour Bedding Supplies: Help for the elderly to sleep more soundly.
Shenzhen Glamour Bedding Supplies: Help for the elderly to sleep more soundly.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China was home to more than 222 million people aged 60 or older as of the end of 2015 – 16.1% of the total population. In the case of the over-65s these totalled 143 million, around 10.5% of the population. In line with this, the sale of goods and services to this more elderly demographic are expected to be worth RMB106 trillion by 2050, up from just RMB4 trillion in 2014. As a proportion of GDP, over the same period, this will rise from 8% to 33%, making China's silver hair market the largest in the world.

Inevitably, then, finance in the senior sector was the clear focus of this year's Silver Industry Exhibition, with insurance and real estate products targetted at the more elderly widely on show. In other moves, looking to capitalise on the popularity of senior-friendly smart products, many exhibitors had on offer devices specifically designed to be easier for older people to operate.

Retirement Pre-planning

The number of financial services products targetted at the elderly has grown dramatically, reflecting both the demographic shift and the higher overall level of disposable income across the mainland. With heightened awareness of the extended portfolio of insurance and investment products now available, there has also been a greater willingness among younger people to begin making appropriate provision for their later years far earlier.

Photo: Senior-friendly personal hygiene.
Senior-friendly personal hygiene.
Photo: Senior-friendly personal hygiene.
Senior-friendly personal hygiene.

One company looking to capitalise on this was Taikang Management, which chose this year's event to debut its Taikang Community Guangzhou project, an upmarket nursing facility in the Luogang New City district of Guangzhou. According to Xu Zhitong, the company's Marketing Manager, the project targets Taikang Insurance policyholders, giving them the option to extend their coverage to cover the costs of nursing care.

When the Taikang Community Guangzhou opened in December 2015, this saw the company operating a total of three nursing care establishments, with facilities in Beijing and Shanghai having launched several years earlier. The company now has plans for 15-20 similar projects, with sites already earmarked in Suzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Sanya and Qingdao.

Highlighting a significant change in the market, Xu said: "An increasing number of young people are now buying our insurance products. In the past, people did not consider buying insurance products until they were approaching retirement. Now, though, a significant number of 30-40 year olds are already starting to make plans for their old age."

Nursing Care Communities

Under Taikang's business model, policyholders get investment returns through their insurance, which may then be used to pay for the provision of nursing care. Policyholders may also pass on these benefits to other family members if they have no immediate need for such services themselves, something that will not adversely affect any claims they may make later in life. The company also offers nursing care services to non-life insurance policyholders on a security deposit basis, with deposits currently ranging from RMB1 million to RMB2 million (US$145,000-290,000).

All Taikang Community facilities are said to be operated in compliance with Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) requirements, while providing four different options – independent living, assisted living, professional nursing care and memory care. In the case of the Guangzhou facility, this comprises 10 buildings, capable of accommodating a total of up to 1,300 residents. The site includes a convalescent hospital, a nursing care building, six residential blocks, a club house and a recreational area.

Photo: Model care: The Taikang Community Guangzhou.
Model care: The Taikang Community Guangzhou.
Photo: Model care: The Taikang Community Guangzhou.
Model care: The Taikang Community Guangzhou.
Photo: OAP WC TLC.
OAP WC TLC.
Photo: OAP WC TLC.
OAP WC TLC.

In the case of those favouring the independent living option, they can choose between a standard studio flat, a small or large one-bedroom flat or a two-bedroom flat. Each unit comes with private kitchen, private bathroom and sitting area, plus all the required home appliances. Unlike many other elderly care homes, there is no obligation to share accommodation space with third parties, with units designed for single occupants, couples or a group of family members.

According to Xu, one of the key selling points of the Taikang Community is its nationwide network, which makes seasonal migration an option. This allows residents to temporarily relocate from Beijing to Sanya during the colder months.

Another company active in the nursing care sector is Poly-Anping Pension Care Investment Management. It currently has plans in place to build 80-100 senior care projects across the mainland. Guangzhou-based Goodfield, a healthcare investment firm, meanwhile, unveiled its large-scale senior care complex during the course of this year's event, a project said to combine senior care with organic farming and ecological tourism.

Elderly Care Big Data

Photo: Shenzhen Colorful Internet Technology’s senior smartwatch.
Shenzhen Colorful Internet Technology's senior smartwatch.
Photo: Shenzhen Colorful Internet Technology’s senior smartwatch.
Shenzhen Colorful Internet Technology's senior smartwatch.

Aside from nursing facilities, smart elderly care was the other recurrent theme at this year's event. One particularly notable trend was the move to combine elderly care regimes with smart devices capable of acquiring, analysing and sharing healthcare data.

Looking to take a lead here was Shenzhen Colorful Internet Technology, with the company keen to promote Caihong Zaixian (Colourfuline), its smart living service platform for middle-aged and elderly people, as well as its range of senior-oriented games. According to Tong Yi, the company's Marketing Director, its voice-controlled all-in-one computers, ultra-thin tablets and smartwatches all act to provide the elderly with a range of services, including entertainment, healthcare, social networking and travel opportunities.

Overall, the defining feature of the company's product range is said to be the voice control function. Highlighting this, Tong said: "Many elderly people struggle to operate electronic products, but our range allows users to complete complicated tasks by giving orders verbally. The Caihong Zaixian app, for example, can be used to make medical appointments and to retrieve information on healthcare and wellness issues."

Photo: Intelligent services for elderly users.
Intelligent services for elderly users.
Photo: Intelligent services for elderly users.
Intelligent services for elderly users.

As well as developing proprietary hardware and software products, Colorful is also planning to launch the Colorful Health Cloud, a dedicated senior care information management system. The system manages important big data related to the elderly sector, including all relevant age, height, bodyweight, family background and medical history details. The system also allows senior care institutions to deliver any required healthcare information to the elderly every day, with staff members alerted to make house calls in any instances where there is no response.

A number of other smart products on show were designed to enrich the lives of older people, while also improving their health. With this very much in mind, Shenzhen Glamour Bedding Supplies had on offer a palm-sized sleeping aid, complete with an alpha brainwave chip which is said to safely adjust the user's thought patterns, reducing the time taken to fall asleep while also extending the period of deep sleep.

The device can also continuously monitor the user's heart rate, respiratory rate, duration of deep and shallow sleep, and body movement. The family of elderly users can then instantaneously and accurately access this data via a smartphone app.

Completing the round-up of digital products, the www.ly.com travel platform was in Guangzhou to promote its Bailvhui club, a service specifically targetted at senior consumers. The club offers a number of different tour packages, all tailored to the needs of middle-aged and elderly travellers. In the case of Shenzhen e-ling Info Tech, it was presenting its range of smarthome care solutions, including the provision of bespoke personal assistant-style services for elderly consumers. Beijing BestSkip Technology, meanwhile, had on offer a Japanese elderly care training video, said to be easy to follow and sure to improve the effectiveness of carer training.

Senior Bathroom Requisites

The bathroom sector was also notably well represented this year, most notably by a range of senior-friendly products from Jiayu, a Guangzhou-based building materials supplier. Among its latest offerings was a skid-proof shower chair, complete with grip-maximising rubber padded feet. Although the chair automatically locks in place once sat in, it can be rotated by up to 360 degrees by simply pressing a button under the seat. The product was originally designed for the Japanese market, but has now been customised in line with the needs of mainland consumers.

According to Pan Jiahui, a Senior Executive with the company, sales of senior-friendly bathroom products are not particularly high on the mainland at present, with most people tending to buy general use items. Sales of Jiayu's elderly bathroom products, however, have gone up by around 15-20% per year of late, with nursing homes and elderly care institutions being the principal buyers.

Photo: Jiayu’s skid-proof shower chair.
Jiayu's skid-proof shower chair.
Photo: Jiayu’s skid-proof shower chair.
Jiayu's skid-proof shower chair.
Photo: The Oasis high-end bathtub.
The Oasis high-end bathtub.
Photo: The Oasis high-end bathtub.
The Oasis high-end bathtub.

Another company majoring on bathroom products was Guangzhou Oasis Trading. According to the staff on its stand, the company manufactures bespoke bathtubs, which buyers can personalise to their own requirements, including the options of power taps, air injections, hydro-massage, coloured lighting, aromatherapy facilities, a heater, seat and back warmers, ozone protection and even a waterproof HDTV.

The China International Silver Industry Exhibition 2016 took place at the Poly World Trade Center Expo in Guangzhou from 11-13 November, with more than 300 exhibitors in attendance.

Xing Bin, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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