Enhancing the “Coolness Factor” in Our Later Years

June 24, 2014
54 Views

biomedical products for senior healthBiomedical advances over the last century have advanced our life spans to degrees that would seem miraculous to a late 19th century observer. But as a 100-year lifespan begins to approach “normal,” do we have a plan on how these extra 30 to 50 years should be lived?

biomedical products for senior healthBiomedical advances over the last century have advanced our life spans to degrees that would seem miraculous to a late 19th century observer. But as a 100-year lifespan begins to approach “normal,” do we have a plan on how these extra 30 to 50 years should be lived?

Recently, I spoke at the spring meeting of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, where topics ranged from better ways to prevent diabetes, to drug development for an aging population, to the importance of social networks among the aging, and other clinical and scientific approaches.

My talk was a little different. I focused on how we can build better designs into products intended to help with the aging process. This would involve making “uncool” medical technologies into “cool” accessories of aging.

There’s been a lot of attention on increasing lifespan, and enhancing that lifespan so the extra decades we can now enjoy will be fulfilling ones. But we shouldn’t have to accept being “cool” for the first half of our lives, and being “uncool” for the second half. For example, eyeglasses were not considered fashionable when first introduced, but now there are many designs (and designers) focused on “eyewear.” This is not true of the hearing aid, the cane or the walker.

The increased lifespan that came from reducing the impact of infectious disease and making other diseases more preventable also has created another issue: the so-called “biomedicalization of aging.” This debate covers many serious ethical and medical issues, including our increased knowledge of the biology of the aging body and mind, and the ethical question of more medical procedures performed on people in their 80s, 90s or 100s. But while many researchers and other observers also discuss issues about happiness and psychological well-being of elderly people, few look for what I believe are simple ways to improve that well-being via enhancement of the “coolness factor” in our later years.

By removing the “uncool” stigma of many technological tools to help the aged, we can improve well-being. Bringing designers to create interesting, attractive, and even fun products could be a relatively easy solution, and turn the aging process from a biomedical issue into one of lifestyle.

Aging “cool” / shutterstock

You may be interested

Wellness
35 shares309 views

7 Super Foods that Boost Immunity

Amy Trotter - Jun 22, 2017

If you are looking to shake the pesky colds and flus that make the colder months unbearable, look no further…

Causes and Consequences of Skin Irritation
Home Health
65 shares448 views
Home Health
65 shares448 views

Causes and Consequences of Skin Irritation

Rehan Ijaz - Jun 21, 2017

Skin ailments are the most common health problem that Americans face. Unfortunately, even seemingly benign skin problems such as acne…

A Changing World: 4 Things that will Change Healthcare in the next 10 Years
Health care
50 shares624 views
Health care
50 shares624 views

A Changing World: 4 Things that will Change Healthcare in the next 10 Years

Kara Masterson - Jun 20, 2017

Obamacare and the possibility of significant repeal-and-replace plans have made the future of healthcare highly controversial subjects for many Americans.…