Understanding the Elderly

Earlier this afternoon, as the wet snow came falling fast and furious (and took out my next-door-neighbor’s power, thanks to a fallen tree, for the second time this autumn!), I watched a TED Talk given by Eli Stefanski. While I found Eli an interesting story teller, what drew my attention was the place she currently calls her professional home, the Business Innovation Factory.

Our network of innovators, transformation artists and troublemakers is designing the future.

Having seen my Dad spend the last seven or so years of his life in nursing homes, and my Mom successfully avoid that very experience, I was intrigued to learn more about the Nursing Home of the Future as visioned by the Business Innovation Factory. They have a wide array of media online to chronicle the elderly experience: videos, interviews, slide shows and documents for download. I was particularly struck by the videos The Many Journeys of Aging and The Sensory Environment.

At present, the prognosis for the future is not all that sunny when it comes to the massive numbers of baby boomer Americans who will age into their eighties in the next 25 years. There will be more elderly people than there will be places for them to live where they can be independent, maintain their dignity, and have opportunities for constructive and meaningful participation in life. These are very real quality of life issues that will eventually impact people of all ages, because the costs of care are astronomical and our current health care system is strapped.

[UPDATE: The October 31, 2011 New York Times article, A Nursing Home Shrinks Until It Feels Like a Home, tells a story of a nursing home crafted to be more home-like and less hospital-like, noting that this approach can have a positive impact on the quality of life of the folks who live in the home, while also benefitting those responsible for providing care. It sounds to me like a win-win environment for all involved.]

Here is Eli’s talk.

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