April 26, 2013 – BBC World News’s Horizons, a global television program that features insights into the future of business, recently featured the MIT AgeLab and conducted an in-depth interview with me on aging, technology and business innovation. BBC Horizon’s anchor Adam Shaw and I discuss the opportunity of global aging to drive business, rethink the social contract around longevity and how we might leverage technology to live longer better. Adam takes a spin with Miss Daisy and goes shopping with AGNES with two of my AgeLab colleagues. Selected clips of the program may be found on the BBC Horizons website.
April 21, 2013
- Even if you have your health and your wealth – are you prepared for retirement? Often taken for granted are issues such as how will you age independently and maintain a home on your own, do you live in an age-ready community where there interesting things to do and ways to get there as well as have you maintained in a network friends that will make old age fun and healthy. In a recent WSJ MarketWatch article I ask three questions that financial advisors should pose if they really want to engage their clients and the rest of us should ask to reveal if we have really thought about living well in older age.
April 1, 2013 The MIT AgeLab recently reported the results of an exploratory study conducted in partnership with The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence on the use of tele-exercise by older adults to improve the overall well-being and capacity, comfort as well as confidence to drive safely. The preliminary results reveal that the participants reported improved performance in a variety of areas, e.g., ingress and egress of the vehicle. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams featured the study as well as other footage showing one of the participants exercising and driving one of AgeLab’s test vehicles. Click here to view the interview and additional footage of the exercise in action.
March 19, 2013 - Received the privilege to participate on the Wall Street Journal‘s online panel The Experts—an exclusive group of industry and thought leaders who will engage in in-depth online discussions of topics raised in March 2013 Unleashing Innovation Report and all future Reports on WSJ Online. My first contribution was answering the WSJ question – do we all need bucket lists? Click here to view my response and online video interview.
February 20, 2013 - Imagine a world where you own nothing. No, this is not an aging baby boomer flashback of a John Lennon tune, it is the evolving economic and social reality of ‘usership’ that is set to transform markets, consumer behavior — even retirement planning. A trend is emerging. You can have it all and own none of it. Rather than ownership, more and more consumers are seeking ‘usership.’ While ‘sharing’ is often linked to usership they are not the same. Usership economics is characterized by transactions between the user (consumer) and provider. While the provider, typically a private company, may describe a ‘community’ of users, there is little if any real community, shared consideration, or relationship between the users. Read my essay on usership on Huffington Post Business.
The numbers are not clear, but the topic of baby boomer downsizing from larger home to smaller housing options features prominently in the real estate business news. The leading edge of boomers are now between 57 and 67 years old. With their lifestyles changing, many are rethinking where they want to live in retirement. But before excitement about a new lifestyle in older age overtakes you, answer the questions I pose on WSJ/MarketWatch RetireMentors
February 5, 2013
Cancer deaths in the US are down 20% since they peaked in 1991, a new American Cancer Association study reports. Some types of cancer are becoming more like manageable, chronic conditions that doctors and patients keep at bay for years, even decades. That is, for an increasing number of people, cancer is becoming something less to die of than to live with. Cancer, of course, isn’t the only chronic condition that tends to appear with age – other common culprits include heart disease and diabetes. And although life expectancies are on the rise, conditions like these change the equation: we’re not only living longer, but also living sicker. Read more on Disruptive Demographics
January 29, 2013
Beginning January 2013 I will be contributing to Wall Street Journal MarketWatch’s Retirement Mentors with observations and insights into the ‘what we will be doing in retirement’ alongside discussions of how much it might cost. My first piece addresses transportation planning in retirement. Mobility is an assumption of quality retirement, but poor health, an isolated home and a dearth of mobility options can make retirement a prison sentence rather than life’s reward. Here are five tips to make sure you can keep moving in retirement. (click here)
January 18, 2013
My MIT AgeLab colleagues and I presented at the US Conference of Mayors annual meeting in Washington, DC. We discussed and demonstrated the challenges that an aging society presents to today’s cities. Several US Mayors put on AgeLab’s Age Gain Now Empathy System or AGNES to feel the friction and frustration that many older adults managing chronic conditions experience using transit, accessing public facilities or simply walking down the sidewalk.
December 19, 2012
Invited to deliver the keynote lecture for the Institute of Medicine National Academies Forum on Aging, Disability & Independence in Washington, DC. Coughlin’s talk “Technology & Independent Living: Can We Move Ideas in the Laboratory into Innovations in the Living Room?” identified current barriers to technology deployment and adoption by older adults and the disabled. I advocated a systems approach to product/service development that integrates adoption and delivery to users and caregivers alike is necessary if we are to see many of today’s technologies make a difference in the lives of older people tomorrow. To view video (click here)
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November 26, 2012
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to speak at the MIT SENSEable City Lab‘s UrbanCode Symposium. The symposium, co-sponsored by The Economist, addressed the big potential of ‘big data’ to improve the city. While big data does offer amazing possibilities to improve operations such as public transportation, sanitation, even health delivery, I asked the global audience of researchers, policy makers and technologists to consider that we may not be demanding enough from big data. Instead, can we use big data to envision new ways to improve population happiness & well-being. Read more of my remarks on Huffington Post Science Big Questions for Big Data.
November 1, 2012
Money Magazine’s Penelope Wang profiles me as a Game Changer in retirement in her article Planning for a Very Long Retirement. The profile examines many questions that are part of the new retirement – planning for longevity not just financial independence, e.g., how will you maintain your home, ensure transportation, provide care to others?
Are we ready to work six-plus decades? A recent study of baby boomer retirement readiness suggests that many will have to work another decade past traditional retirement age to be ready for life after work. How might a longer work life affect how we view health management, lifelong education and financial engagement? Read more about the new future of old age and retirement planning in my recent article “Is 75 the New 65?” on Disruptive Demographics.
Today there are at least three generations of workers that employers and financial advisors must successfully engage. Who are these generations? Can behavior be neatly cut and named into one or more decades? Birth cohort does not predict with precision, but it does give patterns into possible engagement strategies for financial advisors and human resources professionals seeking client/employee attention and action. My recent article in Bank Investment Consultant – ‘Talkin’ About Your Generation’ describes today’s three-generation workplace and marketplace describing their different learning styles, patterns of technology use and what each cohort believes makes ‘good’ advice. (Read article)
October 23, 2012
I delivered Tuesday’s keynote presentation to LeadingAge 2012 earlier this week. LeadingAge’s members represent the nation’s aging services network of 6,000 organizations that touch 4 million individuals, families, employees and volunteers every day. Speaking to the more than 8,000 attendees my talk described the new demands of the next generation of older adults and how technology as well as creative partnerships with business, novel services and the development of a next generation workforce will reinvent and re-envision the future of aging services to care for tomorrow’s elderly baby boomers. To read a summary of my remarks see my post Innovation & the Future of Aging Services on Disruptive Demographics.
October 21, 2012
A new study was published by the National Research Council (NRC) — Aging and the Macroeconomy: Long-Term Implications of an Older Population. The NRC report addresses the issue of the day and this election year, the cost of retirement, more specifically social security and related health entitlements. Among its recommendations it points to pushing retirement beyond 19th century German Chancellor Bismarck’s pick of 65 years old being the ideal year to call it a day. For well over a century governments and people have been following these dated actuarial tables. Organizations loathe change, even when you can see it right in front of you. In Bismarck’s day life expectancy was closer to 50 so 65 was…well, let’s just say ‘fiscally prudent’. Today people are very likely to risk their lifespan outpacing their wealthspan with life expectancy well into the eight decade and more for many. Read more on Disruptive Demographics on how the Future of Retirement Looks Like Work.
The National Pension Education Association is a national organization of public retirement systems that focuses on educating members about the importance of and the need for retirement planning. My keynote at NEPA’s annual meeting discussed how retirement education and planning must change to meet the emerging needs of future retirees. This is not your father’s retirement. The next generation of retirees must navigate unsure and unclear benefits as well as complex issues that were once managed by larger supportive families. For example, caregiving was rarely discussed let alone given a name…giving care was simply being a loving spouse, daughter or son. Today, surveys suggest that even the mass affluent are transferring savings once marked for children’s college education to purchase eldercare services. Greater complexity, more issues to consider and self-directed retirement will generate far more demand for information and education. But, more is sometimes just more, not better. The MIT AgeLab’s research indicates that the unique learning styles and education needs of employees across the lifespan must be fully considered to ensure effective engagement. Moreover, generational cohort and gender influences financial information seeking and processing behaviors. If retirement is in transition, so should retirement education.
I delivered the keynote lecture before the global audience gathered at the 2012 Care Continuum Alliance (CCA) annual meeting in Atlanta. CCA’s mission is to realize the highest achievable health status through the promotion and alignment of population health improvement through patient-centric models of care, innovative practice and care models, as well as the cost-effective application of technology. My talk, “Care or Confusion? A Consumer’s Perspective of the Healthcare Delivery System” identified how changes in public trust, an evolving patient-doctor relationship and the implementation of countless technologies may be providing great promise but may also be wrought with potential challenges ahead. For example, sensors and systems are available today to provide cost-effective patient monitoring by providing more data, e.g., 24/7 monitoring of blood pressure, blood glucose. However, data alone does not necessarily provide the understanding nor sustained engagement that ultimately leads to better health behaviors and outcomes. Moreover, given the limited face-to-face time physicians have with patients, ‘high-tech’ may substitute for ‘high-touch’, but it may also risk diminishing the trusted patient-doctor relationship critical to healthy behaviors, especially in older patients. I described a future integrated systems approach that demands the development of new generation of health systems professionals and easy-to-use, easy-to-visualize tools to monitor, manage and motivate well-being behaviors across the lifespan.
September 26, 2012
Financial services and health organizations as well as many other often believe that info-therapy alone can be a call to action. Sometimes more is not better, sometimes more is just more. Today’s consumer is juggling demands on their time and attention as well as sorting through a never-ending onslaught of complex and often conflicting information. For organizations seeking to understand, let alone nudge, consumer behavior they must consider that ‘more’ information may be more confusing rather than an enticement to engage. Read more on my Huffington Post Science & Technology article “Eat Less, Live More? Science, the Media and Health Behavior” to see how even ‘hard science’ must struggle for clarity, guard against conflicting meanings and navigate the new media world of public engagement.
September 22, 2012
The engineering KISS principle, ‘keep-it-simple-stupid,’ applies to more than technology design. It is powerful guidance to all innovators who want their products or services to excite and delight their target users. So consumer products, no matter how cutting edge, need to be designed with busy, preoccupied people in mind, or else it’s not going to be used effectively or overtime not used at all. Whether you are in the business of financial services or building a new widget to remind grandma to take her meds — simplicity is key to engagement. Making a product or service simple to understand and use for the consumer is hard work. Read more on Disruptive Demographics to learn how ‘simple thinking’ can be applied across markets and translate ideas into innovation.
September 11, 2012
I delivered a keynote address to the annual meeting of College and University Professionals Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), a group of human resources professionals who serve institutions of higher education. Rapidly changing demographics will be a major source of grief – and opportunity – for HR professionals in the not-too-distant future. Two major demographic disruptions are already affecting employee well-being and productivity. First, a generation of peak wage-earners is sandwiched between caring for children and aging parents. And, second, more and more people are living alone, which presents its own unique set of challenges. Read more on my post “Caregiving & Going It Alone: When Life at Home Impacts Productivity at Work” on Disruptive Demographics.
August 19, 2012
Translating invention into innovation takes more than good technology. Even after the considerable technological development is complete, it is unlikely that any of us will be jumping into our robotic roadster anytime soon. The technological barriers are likely to pale in contrast to the policy, market, and consumer challenges to the driverless car. Here is a partial list of issues and questions that should be on government, industry, and researcher agendas today if we are to ever realize the promise of the driverless car tomorrow.
August 18, 2012
Taking a new look at advertising and old age. Images of ‘aging’ have been on television for years. The famous, some might say infamous, ‘help I’ve fallen and can’t get up’ commercial for Life Call’s personal emergency response system has shaped much of the public’s perception of products for older consumers. Other less dramatic commercials aimed at older consumers include a litany of assistive technologies, such as scooters, and the pharmaceutical industry’s direct-to-consumer campaigns for countless medications to manage debilitating conditions. These images have done more than sell a product they have reinforced an image of aging.
May 12, 2012
Joseph Coughlin, a 1982 graduate of SUNY Oswego who is internationally known for his work in gerontology, business innovation and public policy, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree from the State University of New York on May 12 at Oswego’s 151st Commencement.
May 1, 2012
Advisors must realistically assess their clients readiness for life after work. For successful engagement financial advisors must be realistic, relevant and responsive to the changing needs and personal agendas of their clients managing midlife.
April 11, 2012
March 1, 2012
March 8, 2012
Estimating the real cost of health in older age. Retirement planning must consider the cost of health versus the out-of-pocket cost of well-being.
March 1, 2012
Story describes Coughlin’s research and approach to helping clients identify and separate sources of income to face the challenges of getting older, e.g., housing, transportation, caregiving, healthcare.