Lyft ups its bet on the senior market with donations to the Village to Village Network

Lyft application
Source: Lyft

In a nod to the burgeoning importance of seniors as a target demographic of technology companies, Lyft and Home Care Assistance announced the ridesharing company will donate a portion of fares booked through the in-home care company.

Under the pilot program, which is currently only available in Palo Alto, California, for every Lyft ride booked by a client of Home Care Assistance — one of the largest in-home care providers in the country — Lyft will donate 1 percent of the fare to the Village to Village Network, an organization that helps seniors live independently. The announcement also signals a deepening of ties between Lyft and Home Care Assistance, which became partners earlier this year.

Under the partnership, older adults can bypass the app and instead request a Lyft ride by calling Home Care Assistance. Lyft's competitor, Uber, announced a similar partnership with 24Hr HomeCare earlier this year. The emergence of ties between the ridesharing companies and in-home care companies underscores a convergence of interests between the two segments: Ridesharing services can extend the ability of older adults to live independently while the 50-plus demographic provides a lucrative market for tech companies. The AARP estimates adults over the age of 50 account for $7.6 trillion dollars of annual economic activity in the U.S.

Other tech companies are also taking notice of the baby boomer and senior market. At the recent Aging 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Jennifer Haroon, an executive with Google's self-driving car program, spoke about the impact of automated car technology on the lives of seniors.

"When you can't drive, it can be very isolating, and everyone wants to be able to go out, run their errands, go to the doctor, see their friends, on their terms," said Haroon. "And that's what a self-driving car can really bring."

Still, there are challenges. A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that only 27 percent of 65-plus adults own a smartphone. Home Care Assistance CEO Lily Sarafan says by having access to ridesharing services through a landline, more seniors will be able to tap into the potentially transformative benefits of ride-hailing apps.

The program is currently only available in Palo Alto, but Home Care Assistance officials say they hope to expand it to its clients nationwide.