Guest blog: 14.8.2019

THE FUTURE LOOKS GREAT – AND GREY

 

Last time I saw Fonzie on television, he looked a bit overweight and his grey hair wasn’t combed back with pomade anymore. The Fonz, aka mr Henry Winkler was as great as always, now playing an older decidedly uncool acting teacher. He reminded me of my father with his dashing days past and gone. 

 

Writing about design for the elderly, including my 85 yrs. old dad in the last blog, I stumbled upon a lot of interesting data about the ageing population.

 

Some doomsayers seem to claim that even though global warming is a real threat within a few decades, we are facing a more imminent menace: “the Demographic Time Bomb”.

 

People are living longer today. Though life expectancy tends to be highest in advanced economies, it is growing fastest in emerging markets. The United Nations presents some interesting facts about societal aging:

  • Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22%.
  • By 2020, the number of people aged 60 years and older will outnumber children younger than 5 years.
  • In 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries.
  • The pace of population ageing is much faster than in the past.
  • All countries face major challenges to ensure that their health and social systems are ready to make the most of this demographic shift.

 

The number of people aged 60 and over in developing countries is currently twice that of the developed world. And the UN expects a three-to-one ratio by 2030, and a four-to-one ratio by 2050. Societal aging is bad news for the economy:

 

 Fewer people work and contribute to economic growth and more people collect pensions and demand health care.

 

One of the big challenges of health care and health policy is how to manage the increasing number of elderly patients. Telecare and Mobile Health solutions with remote patient monitoring will certainly help in easing the pressure of health care infrastructure and professionals. These services also make it easier for older adults live their lives independent longer.

 

My father has been under observation in a couple of hospitals for a total of six months now. He was living alone and started to leave home without keys, getting lost and sometimes falling. I believe that he would have been happy to change his beloved Rolex into a smart wellbeing wristwatch to help him out in his daily chore, keep him connected to the family without being hospitalized.

 

Just imagine how many dads and moms could continue living at home by using such mHealth devices. As a result there would be enormous financial savings. The biggest reward is naturally the possibility to enjoy life at home with confidence and freedom. In Fonzie’s words: “You ain’t nobody until you do what you want!”

 


PETER KERÄNEN


Design enthusiast, health writer and oldest son.

”Dad was my first hero” 

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