DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnad015 ISSN: 0016-9013

Innovations for an Aging Society through the Lens of Patent Data

Reuben Ng, Nicole Indran
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • General Medicine


Background and Objectives

An aging population creates fertile ground for devising innovations for older adults. By using patents as a proxy for inventive activity, this study sets the stage for understanding the latest innovations being designed for the older population. Insights will pave the way for a better understanding of inventions that could render society more age-friendly on the innovation front.

Research Design and Methods

To identify the latest innovations targeted at the older population, we collected all patents (N = 326) issued in 2021, specifically those issued between January 5th and December 28th. Upon removing irrelevant data, 120 patents were retained in the data set. Both inductive and deductive modes of reasoning informed our content analysis of the data.


Three themes surfaced. About half (49.2%) of the patents focused on “Preventive Health, Safety, and Independence” (Theme 1). About 38.3% pertained to “Anti-Aging” (Theme 2) and 12.5% were about the “Pathologization of Old Age” (Theme 3).

Discussion and Implications

This is the first study that evaluates the state of innovations for an aging population. While there are inventions aimed at optimizing the well-being of older adults, there are also those designed due to beliefs that see old age as a problem to solve. As the world experiences a demographic shift, it is imperative that collective ingenuity be harnessed to build a society conducive to all facets of the aging experience.

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