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The gap between healthspan and lifespan — and what we can do about it

Bold has raised a $17 million Series A to help older adults age well

By Amanda Rees, Co-founder and CEO of Bold

Everyone, every day, is aging. However, many of us prefer not to think or talk about aging because it can bring up feelings of anxiety, fear and even shame. But of course, that’s exactly why it is important we talk more about aging, and about how we can help every person age well.

My own attitude towards aging radically changed after I became a family caregiver, living with and caring for my grandmother as she experienced falls, dementia, cancer, and hospice. I spent most of my 20s and my early 30s living with my grandmother and navigating the healthcare system on her behalf as she aged from 88 to 96. During this time, I reflected on my own aging experience, and I thought a lot about ways that technology could make it easier to live a healthier, longer life. 

Most often, I returned to the idea of using movement as medicine. I saw firsthand the powerful impact that exercise programs could achieve in a matter of months. With balance and strength training, my grandmother became more steady and stopped falling. With breathing, stretching and strengthening exercise, my grandmother’s mood would improve and she would get less agitated, even as her dementia worsened. Exercise became the most reliable tool I had to help her feel better, sleep better, and live better. Exercise was also a tool that helped me stay resilient and manage caregiver burnout, squeezing in a yoga class or hike would help me fill my cup before returning to care and work. 

This profound experience was the spark that inspired me and my co-founder, Hari Arul, to start Bold. In just a few years, Bold has grown to serve members in every state with personalized, science-based exercise programs to help them age well. We’re reaching millions of Medicare members and giving them new tools and opportunities to change the way they age through movement. 

Healthcare was not designed to support aging well

Most Americans spend the last decade of their life in poor and declining health, but this doesn’t have to be our reality. Scientific studies and research shows that common chronic conditions, like diabetes, arthritis, cognitive impairment and depression, are manageable, preventable and even reversible through changes in our routine habits. Despite a tremendous amount of evidence for lifestyle interventions, our healthcare system has not put these insights into practice.

Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the data around health in aging paints a disturbing portrait. Some 95% of adults 65 and older suffer from at least one chronic condition; 80% suffer from two or more. On top of that, more than 1 in 4 older adults fall each year. Falls result in 3 million ER visits annually and are the leading cause of injurious death for older adults. (They’re also immensely costly to care for, with medical costs related to falls totaling $50 billion annuallymore than Medicare’s expenditures on cancer.)

This disconnect between our longevity and our quality of life — between lifespan and what is known as our ‘healthspan’ — is one of the most profound problems in all of healthcare. Solving it will require a coalition (this is healthcare after all) — including insurers, policymakers, and providers agreeing to think differently about what healthcare must offer to help people pursue their lives to the fullest.

But most importantly, it will take individual action. This is why Bold exists: we offer personalized, clinical exercise programs that engage older adults and drive outcomes, breaking down the multitude of barriers that prevent people from incorporating movement into their lives by focusing on accessibility, ease of use, and relevance to each and every member.

Bold is a healthy aging company dedicated to increasing healthspan and reducing health spend

For the past 4 years, our team at Bold has been building a clinical exercise platform that meets our members where they are, providing personalized programs that help prevent falls, reduce pain, and promote overall well-being.

Bold’s platform creates customized programs for each member based on their personal history and goals. Our model has been informed by research we conducted that showed that the same motivators that might have supported an exercise routine when we were younger are not the same as those when we are older, and we’ve been sure to build for the unique needs of older adults at every step. Our results to date speak for themselves: in peer-reviewed research, Bold’s platform has demonstrated a 46% reduction in falls and a 182% increase in weekly physical activity

Our commitment to clinical integrity, combined with our dedication to supporting older adults, are why an increasing number of Medicare payers and risk-taking provider groups are turning to Bold to support the healthy aging needs of their members and patients. Today, Bold is available to more than 10 million older adults at no cost to them through one of our partnerships with industry leaders, including UnitedHealth Group and Oschner. 

While we are proud of our journey so far, we know we have so much more to do on our mission to help everyone age boldly, with strength and independence. Today, we are proud to announce that Bold has raised a $17 million Series A led by Rethink Impact, with participation from Samsung Next and existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital, bringing our total amount raised to $27 million.

We are fortunate to have such accomplished backers who believe, as we do, that movement is medicine, and who see the value in building quality-of-life offerings specifically for older adults. We are also deeply grateful to our partner payers and providers who have trusted us to support their members and patients. To all of you, our message is one of thanks — and of rededication to the important work ahead of us.

Where we go from here

According to the U.S. Census, the next decade will be transformative for our country’s demographics. By 2030, every baby boomer will have turned 65, and by 2034, there will be more Americans older than 65 than those younger than 18.

What this tells us at Bold is that our mission has never been more important than it is right now. To ensure the sustainability of essential programs like Medicare, we need to revamp our approach to prevention, deploying cost-effective interventions at scale that are grounded in science and built for the unique needs of our growing population of older adults. 

Fall prevention is just the (very costly) tip of the iceberg. Bold’s aim is to help millions improve the way they age through movement, whether they are at risk of falls, have pain, or suffer from chronic illness impacting their quality of life. If you want to be on the cutting edge in positively impacting how we age in this critical time, we would love to work or partner with you.

Learn more about partnering with Bold.