In Europe in the near future, it is estimated that the EU-25 countries will experience a demographic shift from 2000 when 15.7% of the population was over 64, to an estimated older population of 17.6% in 2010 and 20.7% in 2020 . Also the number of the “very old”, 85+ will rise continuously. Thus it is expected that, in the EU the number of 85+ will triple from 23.7m to 62.4m by 2060 . This will have a major impact on public expenditure. The 2012 Aging Report  forecasts a rise of 4.1% of GDP of high-age related costs. Also the European labour market will be affected. It means that more dependants have to rely on fewer active nursing staff and dependants. The demand of nursery homes will be growing. For these reasons but also because elderly people want to remain in their own homes, solutions enabling them to do so, are needed.
Social isolation of elderly people
Many of Europe’s elderly citizens live by themselves. In Germany, for example, social analysts estimate that more than 40 percent of elderly people live alone , and even in Ireland a third of the people aged 65 years and over lived by themselves in 2009 . Many of these suffer from loneliness and social isolation .
Loneliness and social isolation in the elderly are major problems in elderly care. Activities offered by social services do, however, often not reach those most in need. Reasons for this are: social deprivation, low self-esteem or physical inability.
Studies show that people lacking social contacts are more susceptible to diseases, to infarction, stroke and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease [6, 7]. At the same time it is true that loneliness leads to social isolation and to lack of exercising, which itself delays healing processes and speeds up aging. The Join-In project aimed at counteracting loneliness in the elderly by providing technologies and a methodology for elderly persons to participate in social activities.
Join-In tackles a problem that clearly affects a large amount of the population. Social networks during the last decade have shown themselves as a powerful tool for connecting people and providing emotional support from/to family and friends. This will help the elderly and motivate them to stay fit; it will also reduce treatment by supporting prevention. Additionally, our solution are low-cost, thus seniors of different economic backgrounds can afford these.
Join-In provides tools and activities for social networking specially targeted at the elderly non-experienced computer user. Activities offered are a memory card game, called “Memofix”, a biking exergame and exercises. To enforce communication the “Memofix” is connected to the Join-In videoconference system which can be activated/ turned off individually. Besides the networking features like setting up interest groups, the platform holds an e-mailing and a videoconferencing system. A moderator modul allows the presence of a person to help connect the seniors or to offer special services like gymnastics. On top of that Join-In developed a senior-friendly controller. The prototype is available. Prototypes are also available for 2 more exergames, one concentrating on coordination (“Maze”) and one on exercising different parts of the body (“AntiqueHunt”).
 EC 2007a http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/social_situation/docs/ssr2005_2006_en.pdf
 Sorkin D, Rook KS, Lu JL: Loneliness, lack of emotional support, lack of companionship, and the likelihood of having a heart condition in an elderly sample. Ann Behav Med. 2002 Fall; 24(4):290-8
 Tomaka J, Thompson S, Palacios R: The relation of social isolation, loneliness, and social support to disease outcomes among the elderly. JAging Health.2006 Jun; 18(3):359-84