Are You Part Of The Gray Wave? If Not Yet, You Will Be!

Gray Wave - the growing population of those over 65

The Gray Wave (% of the population over 65) is coming. To put this in perspective – worldwide, the elderly (age 65 and older) represented 6% of the global population in 2002. That will become 9% in 2020 and 17% by 2050.

This is not just a statistic.  It has a personal side to it.  For the last few weeks, my wife has been back in Cincinnati helping my Grandmother who just turned 95 last week, still lives in the same house she raised her kids in and still cooks and cleans.  Whenever I'm in Cincinnati for business, I have to stay at the house with her else she will kick my b** — and she can!  Not to mention she makes a killer chocolate cake to bribe me to come back.

However, we are at that time when the current living condition is not working.  A three story, two bed, one bath house is not the environment for a 95 year old woman.  We've been through this before.  Both of my parents had sever medical issues which required that they come live with us (in Virginia) so that my wife, who is an RN, could take care of them.  They have both passed on and now its time for us (really my wife) to take care of my Grandmother.

Recently, the HP Accessibility Team asked me to share my experiences of making modifications and searching out technologies to help my parents live a full and meaningful life until they both passed on. I prepared the following audio for the team as way for them to hear my story and to also share it with others.

Audio Story “Taking Care Of My Parents”  ~25 minutes in length

We have jokingly told our kids that we are modeling the behavior we are expecting to received when we get old!

This issue of the gray wave is something we all need to think about.  As part of my day job, I've been looking into what innovations/technologies could we create so that people can live independent lives for as long as possible.  If we as a society don't address it, the kids of tomorrow will suffer under the emotional, time and financial pressures of not only raising their own kids but dealing with us their parents.  This trend is what some in the market reseach/customer demographics space call “sandwichers” (you are between your kids and parents – taking care of both).

Let's get cracking on some killer ideas for the gray wave … before I become one!

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3 thoughts on “Are You Part Of The Gray Wave? If Not Yet, You Will Be!

  1. There are so many ways to help the elderly or those with physical disabilities but I’d focus first and foremost on understanding the cultural issues that most technologist fail to properly grasp. As anyone who visits an elderly or disabled person recognizes, real visual and auditory interaction often do more to re-energize the individual than any e-mail or social network technology can ever do. People are social creatures and looking them in the eye, seeing into their current state, and helping them recognize that they are more than just a voice or an electronic address is critical. The most important innovation is to take telepresence technology to the masses and make it a central part of the social, medical, and self-reliance sense of life that every person needs. Throw away the bells and the whistles and focus on simplicity, ease of use, service integration, etc. and we’ll do more to help those in need feel their lives have meaning while improving the quality of their lives. Lot of technologies in this space but they are piecemeal and focused on business consumers who have more time and often a greater tolerance for complex technology. Lot of possibilities here but too little room in this response to cover it all.

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