The future of aging
By Joanne Richard.
Aging is sparking innovation.
Slowly but surely, business leaders and entrepreneurs are strategically adapting their products and services to match the demands of seniors and deliver on unmet needs and consumption habits.
Empathy and wellness are driving designs for the ever-growing population of older adults – the 60+ global population will encompass more than one in five human beings by mid-century, climbing from 962 million to 2.1 billion by 2050!
Adults are not only living longer, they are expecting to “live longer better” and that, according to Colin Milner, requires solutions that embrace active aging. Older people want to retain their function abilities at as high a level as they can, for as long as they can, including physical, cognitive, and social function.
“The better we function in all areas of life, the better our lives,” says Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) and a leading authority on the health and wellbeing of the older adult.
According to ICAA research, 59% of senior living communities see themselves moving from a care-based community with wellness, to a wellness-based community with care.
There is a stream of wellness trends that are empowering active aging, including innovative places and spaces, growing person-centered wellness solutions, and harnessing technologies to boost health, wellness, and quality of life, says Milner.
These smart innovations and new approaches championing older adults will also fuel healthy economic growth. Older people have purchasing power! “The 50+ market now accounts for 70% of disposable income, a number that has grown from 50% twenty years ago,” says Milner, who hosts the podcast Colin Milner Rethinks Aging With… and features researchers, best-selling authors and thought leaders to help transform the conversation on aging.
Here is what Milner is seeing on the new aging-driven frontier:
- The rise of the well-built environment. The focus is on creating well-environment to support more of a wellness lifestyle. This includes bringing the outdoors inside, air filtration, lighting, the materials we use in the building and/or to build the building, and the spaces within the building that support all dimension of wellness – physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, vocational, environmental. With COVID-19, the emphasis on a well-building has exploded.
- A focus on the individual with person-centred, personalized wellness solutions. We know that no two individuals age the same way or at the same rate, whether due to health, lifestyle, income, education, life experiences, sex, upbringing, etc. The need to support this is giving rise to technologies that manage our health and wellness 24/7. Everything from wearable to biometric clothing and smart pills, to genetic testing for those wanting better health, care, and results, is driving personalization and the tools needed to support it.
- The explosion of technology. Whether remote health monitoring, Zoom calls, games, exercise programs, virtual reality, wearables for performance and health, or lifestyle management, there is no shortage of solutions. The key for most people is to understand exactly why they want or need the technology, what support it offers, and that it also takes into consideration some of the challenges of aging, including vision, stability, physical capabilities, access, etc. Think beyond the next bling thing to “the thing.”
- Communities brimming with wellness. According to ICAA research, 59% of senior living communities see themselves moving from a care-based community with wellness, to a wellness-based community with care. “And, having looked into the COVID-19 abyss, I believe we are going to see a huge focus on aging-well support by these kinds of communities, which will also be intergenerational, and their services open to the general public, from spas, to restaurants, to wellness centres and walking trails.”