Friday, January 11, 2008

Seven ways to rethink longevity and age well

Jan 11, 2008

By Sumathi V. Selvaretnam
DESIGN a car for an old man and nobody will buy it.

Instead, it is best to create products that promise convenience that people of different ages will enjoy.

This is one of seven ways that Singapore can re-imagine longevity, said Dr Joseph Coughlin, founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab which develops age-friendly items.

He shared his tips on how businesses can tap the opportunities of an ageing Singapore and how people can age well, when he spoke at the Silver Industry Conference yesterday:

1. Focus on health and wellness across one's lifespan - not disease.

2. Redefine old age as 'quality living'.

3. Embed technology into education, health, leisure and daily life to help people live longer.

4. Do not develop products specially for the old. Design services instead for 'convenience' that can be used by people as they turn 50, 60, 70 and older.

5. Keep working. Redesign your work, for instance, with a more flexible work arrangement. Or try a different job.

6. Instil lifelong education. A degree from 40 years ago may not be relevant, so go back to school.

7. Institutionalise the idea of innovation. Build it around stakeholders and industrialise the process. Export it to the rest of the world.

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