2008 Hot List

Seniors

Years on the list: 4 out of 21
Senior Services
The population is aging--by 2030, the number of adults age 65 and older will double to 70 million. No one is feeling the crunch more than baby boomers, who now find themselves in the "sandwich generation"--caring for both their children and their aging parents. An estimated 44 million Americans provide care for elderly family or friends. "Any businesses that can address this dilemma in terms of health care, stress management, financial planning and problem-solving for elderly parents--that is a huge area of concern right now," says Cathy Hamilton, founder and managing editor of BoomerGirl.com , a media company that provides news, information and community advice to baby boomer women.

Helping both the sandwich generation and seniors is Pamela J. Braun, a licensed clinical social worker who founded Geriatric Assessment, Management & Solutions LLC in Sun City, Arizona. She provides assessment and evaluation, medical appointment coordination and medical/legal power of attorney services. With annual sales between $300,000 and $400,000, Braun, 43, says, "The biggest reward is being an advocate and knowing you're making a difference in the quality of these people's lives." --N.L.T.

Years on the list: 4 out of 21
Senior Products
As Americans age, they become more concerned about brain health. Five million Americans already suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050, according to data from The Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Naturally, products that help seniors keep their mental edge are growing in popularity.

Dan Michel founded Dakim Inc. in 2001 to provide such a product and came up with the mPower Cognitive Fitness System. He got the idea after designing games for his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer's. "The more I engaged him in things that turned out to be cognitively stimulating, the more 'with it' he was," recalls Michel. The staff at the senior living community loved the games, too--and asked Michel to create a product for use with other residents. The resulting touchscreen system lets seniors play games, puzzles and other challenging and fun cognitive activities. The response from senior centers has pushed sales into the seven figures and inspired this Santa Monica, California, entrepreneur to create an at-home version, set to launch next year.

To enter this market, start by approaching caregivers, says Jacqueline Marcell, an elder-care and Alzheimer's expert and author of Elder Rage. "There's a growing need for products and services that fit the marketplace," she says. Check out what's already available and think about what would make life easier for both patients with dementia symptoms and their caregivers. --N.L.T.

Still Hot
In-Home Nonmedical Care
According to AARP, 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their homes as they age--and in-home nonmedical care companies provide services to help them do just that. David Goodman, CEO of Companion Connections Senior Care, an in-home nonmedical care company, says entrepreneurs should focus on behavioral tests for caregiving employees to ensure better placements. To be successful, says Goodman, "You have to have an absolute love for seniors and helping people. You have to really feel compassion." --N.L.T.

Still Hot
Gyms Targeting Seniors
According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association , the number of health club members over age 55 increased 314 percent from 1990 to 2005. "Fitness is a 30-year age offset," says Dr. Walter Bortz, chair of the Lifelong Fitness Alliance . "A fit 70-year-old person is [like] an unfit 40-year-old person." Dr. Bortz says that entrepreneurs need to educate seniors on the myriad benefits of fitness and the longevity and health protection it provides. A key talking point for seniors: It's never too late to start. Also check out the American Senior Fitness Association for info on the industry. --N.L.T.

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This article was originally published in the December 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 2008 Hot List.

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