The Rise of Aging and Health Technology
By Maxine Brockner
I’m really looking forward to the 2018 Health Technology Forum conference taking place at Stanford University on May 14-15. Since I’ve spent over 20 years in Gerontology, I’m especially excited that one of the themes will be on “Healthy Aging and Resilience”.
Not long ago (perhaps 15 years?) there was not that much emphasis on an aging population. Now it seems like EVERYONE has some focus on this age group. Partly this is due to a large number of people who are aging throughout the globe. Part of this is due to the large percentage of people in the aging population, particularly in relation to other age cohorts. But much of this emphasis is due to tremendous leaps taking place in medicine that are extending lifespan but also leaving individuals and society with questions about treating, caring for and providing a good quality of life to those who are aging. Other questions revolve around caregiving and issues involved not only for the aging individual but for caregivers too, especially when they are family members, as usually is the case. We are at a new frontier of aging.
So what are some of the issues we need to think about and anticipate?
How old is old? How much in aging is lifestyle v genes? How do people continue to be resilient? How do we address socioeconomic gaps in aging? What about gender equity in aging? Do health care providers know about aging? Do we expect the individual or society to care for the old? How do we involve the aging population in its own health e.g. getting exercise, having social interactions? How do we provide and pay for long-term care? How do we train people to be long-term caregivers? What about the mental health of caregivers? How do we use technology to solve aging social issues? Whose burden is this anyway?
The 2018 Health Technology Forum will be exploring many of these matters. Hopefully, there will be some answers. As long as we continue to ask questions and explore we will all be part of the solution.