Professor Joseph Coughlin’s office at the MIT AgeLab is full of Post-it notes, on which his own questions and ideas are written such as “Data home: what technical data we can collect from a kitchen, living room, bedroom?” “Three components of medical expenses in an aging society – the quality of life, healthcare services, nursing” “How old is old?”
According to Dr. Coughlin, we should care about the life of the elderly not because you could make money by doing business catering to senior citizens or out of respect for them, but because if people of all ages are not given with a chance to live a better life and participate in society, younger generations would be also socially excluded after two or three decades. He stressed that the future we are making today is a reality that the youth will face soon.
The director of the AgeLab advised those who have retired and are about to spend their later years to hold a variety of events to celebrate the simple joys of life. Some joke that there can be only two events for the aged, a retirement ceremony and a funeral, but just like they did for graduation and marriage, they should try to find the simple joys of life in their late years by, for example, hosting a party to celebrate moving to a smaller house, Coughlin said.
Calling South Korea the “new frontier” of a super-aged society, he said that the rapid aging of the population could serve as an opportunity for South Korea to create a new aging model that can draw attention from academics, industries, and innovators and that if Seoul deals well with the matter, other countries would want to follow and import its best practices. Everyone says aging is a problem, but since when did it become a problem to live longer? A problem becomes a problem only when people say as such, Coughlin said.
Bo-Mi Im firstname.lastname@example.org