Even before the pandemic, the senior living model — aging within four walls within a property line — was not as attractive as it once was, according to Joseph Coughlin, Ph.D., founder and director of the MIT AgeLab. The new generation of older adults is looking for experiences, he said.
Coughlin gave a keynote address about the effects of the pandemic on technology on Tuesday during the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies 2021 Collaborative Care & Health IT Innovations Summit.
“Technology and products are as much what they say about you as what they do for you,” he said, adding that device manufacturers seem to believe old age is about checking medications, blood pressure and nutrition.
But health is not just about chronic conditions and numbers, Coughlin said; it’s also about what it can do to improve quality of life. The new endless frontier of technology, he added, is about friends, fun and function.
“I don’t just want to live longer; I want to live better,” Coughlin said. “There is more need to focus on improving my function, connecting me with friends and fun, and making it fashionable.”
MIT’s AgeLab, for example, is working on an integrative device that envisions the home as a platform, not simply a place to live — monitoring, managing and motivating where someone is in his or her residence, how active he or she is and whether he or she is performing certain activities. Other companies are using virtual reality to take senior living residents on