No one’s getting any younger and no where is that more true than within Europe, even before we acknowledge the current desolation of the welfare state(s), there are big question marks in Europe about how a younger generation can continue to support an aging population - and how we will contend with later life ourselves.
But we don’t tend to talk about this all that much and we certainly focus very little of our working energy on it; pension plans, care homes and the inevitable overheads of an aging body are subjects often avoided. Part of the reason is likely because many are struggling enough to survive in the present, let alone contemplating an entire lifetime but if we’re complacent, it’s likely to spell danger in the long run.
Recently though, a number of conversations have started springing up, talk of distributed pension plans, hacker care homes and intergenerational meetups. (Just imagine if the EdgeRyders community management team was composed of your grandparents generation, it actually begins to make a lot of sense.)
Disruptive innovation often comes from unexpected places and perhaps nothing could be more unexpected in this moment than an intergenerational alliance focused on social innovation.
The concept of high tech aging has already spread, challenging companies, startups, programmers, developers, hackers and makers to address major issues:
1)New care and healthcare solutions
When it comes to improving the daily lives of the elderly and their families, most of institutions simply bet on healthy nutrition, daily exercises, continuous employment or volunteering. Through, true intergenerational places, which should be at the basis of all theses strategies, are crucially missing.
As health care systems are going under major reforms and changes, we need to find a way to provide with affordable access to new technologies, services and treatments. In this sense, DIY strategies offer better perspective than the market. In 2014, there have been a lot of stories about people saving money by 3d printing their own prosthesis or medical material. In the same way Raspberry PI and arduino based systems are now used to create new solutions designed for disabled or impaired people.
We need to increase computer access and digital literacy in senior centers, retirement apartments, and at home, but also how to make internet services more accessible (elderly UX). Although a lot of effort has been made by governments and associations to teach internet skills to elderly, from formal courses to kids teaching their grandparents. On the other hand, softwares like webbie, pawpaw mail or simplicity have been developed and show that the web accessibility is becoming a major topic.
But we believe it’s possible to do much better than this, beyond just opening up new growth markets for tech, why don’t we begin to reconsider our relationship to our elders and think about how we can work together to improve the condition of old age, ours and there’s.
This session will be split into three parts, starting with an open discussion, we’ll map out projects we know, problems we think we might face, sharing experience of caring for elders and what individuals are personally doing in preparation for their later life.
Based on what comes up in open discussion, we’ll pick 3-5 areas of interest and break up into individual groups to further develop the concepts, then come back the end to present to one another. These groups could include the subject of Hacker Care homes, 3D printing prosthesis, P2P pension plans or a new intergenerational hackathon format… Who knows? But thoughts and comments are appreciated in advance of arriving at LOTE4.
Text By Ben Vickers and Rémy Cagnol
Date: 2014-10-25 09:30:00 - 2014-10-25 09:30:00, Europe/Brussels Time.