Future of Aging Event Summary
On November 3, Accelerate organized its second ThinkTank of the calendar year, this time doing so alongside partners at Innovate@BU. This unique event convened more than 80 students, academic faculty, and industry thought leaders to ideate with one another about the Future of Aging. The attendees pondered some of the challenges older adults currently face, and predicted which new ones may arise, then located opportunities for improvements and designing solutions.
Accelerate welcomed the enthusiastic audience, representing 40 different organizations from the Boston area and beyond, into the Cambridge Innovation Center’s Lighthouse event space downtown for a full day of collaboration. People from a diverse spectrum of disciplines formed teams with academic stakeholders to create a wide-ranging array of different ideas and perspectives. Networking opportunities were abound, as professionals who would normally never cross paths were brought together under a shared mission, and a coworking space such as CIC Boston provided the perfect setting.
The stage was set by a series of individual speakers and a panel discussion. Leading off the day was Robin Lipson of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs to speak to her office’s progress toward building a more age-friendly Massachusetts. She was followed by Dr. Charlotte Yeh, the Chief Medical Officer for the AARP, who talked about the ways that we can change the perception of aging and eliminate preconceived stigma around older adults. Also on hand was Danielle Duplin of Agency, the CIC’s Global Longevity Collective to talk about her organization’s goals of working toward Worldwide Innovation for Living Longer & Aging Better.
Our panel featured local professionals Dyan Finkhousen, Managing Director of GE’s Genius Link and President of GE Fuse; Toby Patel, Director of Community Engagement at Rendever; Dr. Anne Lusk, Research Scientist in the Harvard T.H. Chan School’s Department of Nutrition; and Nondini Naqui, former CEO at Society of Grownups. The panel presented real-world examples of how public and private industry stakeholders are implementing inclusive activities, from biking (Lusk) to virtual reality (Patel), to support the needs of older adults and provided a glimpse into the mindsets of Millennials around aging (Naqui), before concluding with an overview on the importance of sourcing of technologies on a local and global scale that have the ability to improve the lives of older adults (Finkhousen).
With the ideas presented by the speakers serving as the basis for their own ideation process, the teams began a rapid prototyping stage. The first step of was to produce ideas en masse, ranging from probable to preposterous, with possible and preferable options in between, and then they commenced sifting through the various conjectures to pinpoint the ones with the most potential. From there, they began developing unified solutions that combined the best elements of the most promising ideas.
ThinkTank groups considered the construction of physical, multi-generational environments, the development of mobile connection platforms, and opportunities to restore function amongst older adults through future technologies. More details on each of the ideas proposed by our ThinkTank groups will be released in the forthcoming Future of Aging ThinkTank booklet.
Despite each group devising their own imaginative idea, there seemed to be several key themes underlying each, rooted in a problem facing older adults, specifically loneliness/isolation, lack of mobility/access, and the loss of purpose. By addressing each of these concerns, we can significantly improve the attitude that people have about aging, and about interacting with older adults.
If you are interested in learning more about the Future of Aging ThinkTank, be sure to visit our website: http://www.acceleratethinktank.org
Check out coverage from WIT’s official website: https://wit.edu/news/experts-envision-future-aging-accelerate-think-tank
And for more photos from the day, feel free to visit our Facebook page: http://bit.ly/FutureofAgingThinkTankPhotos
Thanks for reading and hope to see you at our next ThinkTank!