What will society look like with a growing population of baby boomers who are becoming unhealthier with each passing year? This is an interesting question that has been asked by Columbia's News21 team, who recently traveled to various areas of the US to look at demographic trend of a swelling population of elderly citizens.
How will design, technology and social systems accommodate the average lifestyle requirements for an elderly nation? This website gives a preview of what we could expect in the next 25 years.
What is interesting is that nothing has been said about the preventable measures that could be taken in order to either avoid or at least reduce the risk of health conditions associated with the aging process.
Sure technology can be built to help us live easier more simple lives... but is it all necessary? Do we really need it?
By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet and daily nutrition, as well as keeping ourselves physically active, there should be no reason to waste more tax payer money on not just the health system, but also the apparent 'need' for technology that may or may not support us in our older years.
The following two excerpts from the above website had a real impact on me:
"With every baby boomer turning 65 by 2029, the U.S. will have its largest elderly population ever. And with health care costs soaring, and a shortage of professional caregivers already evident—coupled with older adults' desire to live independently in their own homes—aging-related technologies will be incorporated into peoples' daily lives, predicts Majd Alwan, director of the Center for Aging Services Technologies."
"In the long term, though, technology could save money. As people age they often suffer from multiple chronic illnesses, requiring a variety of physicians and other health care professionals. Currently, Alwan says, there's no technology that helps doctors coordinate patients' care, which leads to repeated procedures, unnecessary hospital readmissions and increased costs."
If everyone started to follow a healthier lifestyle, then maybe the older generation wouldn't need so many 'caregivers'. They could quite easily live independently in their own homes, doing the things they want to, without the need for expensive technology to look after them. I understand that this is an oversimplified and optimistic perspective but I'd like to believe that it’s really possible.
As with any piece of technology and machinery, if you don't service it regularly and neglect to keep it in good working order, it'll fail at some point... probably a lot sooner than you think, requiring more effort, time and money to keep on working. The same goes for your body.
This is because your body is the greatest machine you'll ever own. It's far better than any piece of technology (built or still to developed). Why not look after it now so you can enjoy it for many more years without the need for cold hard technology taking care of you.