The Future of Aging

The Future of Aging is an exploration into the inevitability of technology as a well-intentioned support structure for aging. As the baby boomer generation grows into their later stage of life, many of us are watching our parents, or grandparents, age. Their expectations for growing old are unique to this generation — they’d prefer to avoid nursing homes and are looking for creative solutions to retire on their own terms — and in their own homes.

It’s tempting to throw technology at the challenge of aging in place, given that ability to see potential in helping our parents through designing systems of automation. But a technological cure-all can be dangerous, too — and can quickly become as out-of-sight and out-of-mind an experience as the nursing home one. So as we consider applying tech to solve real life challenges for a generation who wasn’t raised with automation, there are essential design considerations to be sure the solutions we create really help — and with empathy for the person’s true needs.

Brace Yourself for the Silver Tsunami

The “silver tsunami” — the mass number of aging boomers, all hitting their 70s and 80s at once, and all expecting to maintain their middle-class way of life, in their own homes, aging on their own terms. They’ve seen their parents age in nursing homes, and have realized, through a mix of guilt and introspection, that they want no part of a system of planned meals, short family visits, loud common areas, and apathetic nurses.

So how can we design solutions that support them? Us millennials and gen-xers inherently turning towards a familiar cure-all: technology. Have a wandering granny? No problem, here’s the GPS charm bracelet. Not sure if grandpa is still doing okay? Dropcam can push alerts if it hasn’t sensed any motion in over a few hours. Mom or dad not getting enough exercise? Swap the walker for an exoskeleton and guarantee mom gets movement every day.

In blindly embracing technology, we may very well repeat the same mistake made by the previous generation — but our solution won’t be a physical island of care, it will be a digital one. Aging with technology is inevitable. This is what the future of aging could look like.

Age in Place with Past Your Prime

The era of age-in-place services

Find a nurse online, schedule someone to help you manage the shower, or offload daily in-home activities to a pay-per-task contractor who is also your Instacart shopper. What seem like impersonal exchanges today could become commonplace tomorrow, as boomers opt to discreetly pay for on-demand shared care services instead of asking for help from their family thereby risking the removal of privileges, like driving, that can come with sharing vulnerabilities. Amazon, who has a wealth of shopping data, consumer trust, and predictive analytics, will be the first to enter the market. They can capitalize on their in-home delivery infrastructure that allows for shared care workers to securely enter and exit the home at will.

Skip the Condo in Boca Raton, with Wall-to-Wall

Live wall-to-wall, coast-to-coast

Boomers intend to age in place and die in their homes — not in a nursing home. Now they can. They’ll live Wall-to-Wall by bringing their home with them to New York to see the grandkids, or to Scottsdale to do some golfing. Want to have the grandparents over for Thanksgiving dinner during COVID? No problem. At the touch of a button, the self-contained personal dwelling pod will be autonomously un-loaded, shipped, and re-loaded at the location of choice, all without disrupting the in-home care they depend on or forcing them to abandon the personal artifacts that make home, home. You can share time and space with your loved ones, in your own backyard, or across a glass safety screen, safely and securely — every time.

Keep me in the Loop

What was I doing?

We’ve all forgotten what we were doing mid task — but as we age, these moments of forgetfulness happen with increasing frequency. In the future, machine learning in the home will allow us to remain independent a little longer. By recognizing the auditory and visual patterns of our routines, intelligent AI systems will be able to learn and direct our ‘daily loops’ once we’ve lost the ability to do so ourselves. Need a little reminder nudge? We’ve got you covered.

A Digital Agent to Deal with Uncle Sam

Reclaim retirement with a digital assistance

As we age, healthcare paperwork becomes overwhelming. Now, we can reclaim our retirement with a digital assistant — one focused exclusively on managing our Medicaid reimbursements, healthcare and pharmaceutical paperwork. With a simple command, our healthcare digital agent will collect the prerequisite information, find out who to call, submit claims, and argue the case for reimbursements on our behalf. Less time dealing with paperwork — more time for mahjong!

Aging with Technology

As we age, we want to do it on our terms. Nursing homes evolved into planned community living, and planned retirement communities will evolve into a mix of digital services and products — each evolution is aimed at giving us more autonomy and control over the second half of our lives. Welcome to our digital retirement: simpler, yet simultaneously more complex.

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Modernist Studio is a strategy, experience design, and innovation consultancy that designs and builds the future across products, services, experiences and teams. Learn more: http://moderniststudio.com/

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Modernist Studio

Modernist Studio

Modernist Studio is a strategy, experience design and innovation consultancy that designs and builds the future across products, services, experiences and teams

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