“Innovating Aging in Place”
The 2016-2017 Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge invites student designers to optimize all aspects of aging in place, including biological, psychological, financial, and social elements.
Why “Aging in Place” matters:
The extension of average life expectancy around the globe over the past 100 years is unprecedented in human history. People living in the developed world can now regularly expect to live into their 80’s and beyond.
Increasingly, these individuals will remain in their homes as they age. A recent AARP survey in the U.S. indicated that 90% of people over age 65 wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible. As average family size around the world drops, more seniors will live independently. Maximizing the quality of life at advanced ages will be a major challenge of the 21st century.
What “Quality of Life” means:
Quality of life can mean different things to different people. It can be useful to think in terms of “tiers” of quality, starting with maintaining a minimal physical quality of life, but also including social connectedness, purpose, financial security, and a sense of satisfaction.
At the most basic levels are the physical and mental tasks an individual must do in daily life, such as getting out of bed or up from a chair, bathing, dressing, eating, walking, and using the toilet. In the next tier are activities that allow an individual to live independently. These include the ability to buy groceries, prepare meals, do laundry and housework, communicate with a telephone or other device, manage finances, and manage medications without assistance from others.
Beyond these basics, there is a wide array of opportunities to optimize quality of life. For example, regular community and social engagement are positive indicators of future health and life satisfaction. The sharing economy has shown promise in allowing seniors to use resources accumulated over a lifetime to generate income and reduce financial stress (seniors sharing their space through Airbnb is a good example). Transportation solutions involve decreasing auto-dependency and isolation for those living in suburban or rural settings (examples here could range from ridesharing and public transit solutions to autonomous vehicles). Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can automate the home and enable others to help remotely. New approaches for delivering services of all kinds extend what is possible in a home setting. And solutions that allow individuals to work at varying levels of intensity from home can provide both income and a sense of purpose.
The Stanford Center on Longevity is looking for designs to improve quality of life across the spectrum. The best designs are innovative, engaging, practical, and readily understood. User testing of designs has been a critical step for past winners and novel, scalable, and inexpensive design solutions tend to be favored by judges. We invite submissions that meet these criteria and that promise to help people everywhere who wish to age in place.