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Is Gray the New Green?

Quite possibly says the New York Times, in an article about the demographic pitfalls and market possibilities in an aging baby boom population.

The article highlights a collection of interesting ideas with the potential to change what we think we know about aging, about product and service development, and about delivering health care to a population projected to be "very different seniors."
"...longevity-focused researchers including (M.I.T.'s Professor Joseph F.) Coughlin, whose blog is called Disruptive Demographics, are betting that baby boomers, unlike generations past, will not go gentle into the good night of long-term care. In fact, a few research groups at institutions like Oregon Health & Science University, M.I.T. and Stanford, along with foundations and the private sector, are devising policies and systems for an alternate scenario: older adults living independently at home for longer periods, whether that home is a private residence or a senior community.

"Devices for I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up catastrophes, they say, represent the old business of old age. The new business of old age involves technologies and services that promote wellness, mobility, autonomy and social connectivity. These include wireless pillboxes that transmit information about patients’ medication use, as well as new financial services, like “Second Acts” from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, that help people plan for longer lives and second careers.

"Together, those kinds of products and services are already a multibillion-dollar market, industry analysts say. And if such innovations prove to promote health and independence, delaying entry into long-term care, the potential savings to the health care system could be even greater."
AgeWave's CEO Ken Dychtwald posits the future of "middlescence;"
"Imagine a new real estate sector, (Dychtwald) says, that caters to the former hippies among baby boomers who want to form retirement communities with friends by buying six-bedroom communal penthouses in Chicago or farms in Vermont. Or Internet cemeteries, he says, that would preserve video libraries of people’s lives for their descendants to enjoy.

“Rather than viewing maturity as an opportunity to sell people a golf membership or an arthritis medicine,” he says, “since a person who turns 60 has another 20 years, why not create educational programs whereby people can be motivated to go out, learn new skills and have an encore?”
Contact me if I can facilitate your team's strategic thinking about trends and opportunities in this dynamic market. (Steve Davis - healthcarestrategist@gmail.com)

More resources:

The Wall Street Journal on "How to Market to an Aging Boomer: Flattery, Subterfuge and Euphemism"   "Baby boomers, famously demanding and rebellious, don't want anyone suggesting they're old."

MIT's AgeLab - inventing new ideas and translating technologies into practical solutions for improving people's lives and enabling them to "do things" throughout their lifespan.

Professor Coughlin's blog "Disruptive Demographics."

The Oregon Center for Aging & Technology, working to facilitate successful aging and reduce the cost of healthcare through evidence-based technology, research and thought leaders.

Intel-GE Care Innovations is, as its name implies, a joint venture between Intel and GE, focused on  developing technology-based solutions enabling people to live independently wherever they are.

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