A new approach to designing the future of aging: piloted in San Francisco, November 2013.

By: the Editorial Team.  Updated: April 28, 2020.


When design thought-leader IDEO held an open innovation challenge earlier this year on How might we all maintain wellbeing and thrive as we age?, one of the six winning concepts was a simple, but quietly revolutionary idea from OpenIDEO contributor (and Tech-enhanced Life member),  Sylvia Stein.

If you want to solve the challenges of a rapidly aging global population, why not enlist the talents of the growing pool of elderly individuals? After all, they have a lifetime of experience; understand the challenges of aging first hand; and often have time to engage, and an interest in intellectual stimulation.

This month, Bay Area-based Tech-enhanced Life and Ms. Stein are collaborating to pilot her idea at one of San Francisco’s leading retirement communities, The Sequoias - San Francisco.

“It’s the first step in an exciting experiment”, said Richard Caro, Tech-enhanced Life cofounder. “It could be a whole new approach to developing products and services to improve the quality of life of baby boomers (like me) as we age.”

“The design process engages participants in wholly new ways of thinking, for example building empathy, challenging assumptions and learning by experimenting. Working collaboratively and contributing ideas to create the future leads to a strong sense of community,” said Ms Stein.

About the Designing our Future concept

“The initial inspiration for this concept came from a comment made by Barbara A. on [the OpenIDEO] platform, in response to the Challenge Brief. Barbara wrote “Some good points - but the voice (the "we's" and "they's") and perspective of the pitch assume that the people engaging with this challenge are not old and that younger people will be coming up with the solutions. I hope this challenge is being promoted widely via channels with older audiences so we all get a chance to offer our insights, experiences and good ideas!” …..  Sylvia Stein.

About Tech-enhanced Life

We are a collaborative community formed to identify, trial, review, and evaluate ways that technology can help our parents, patients (and us) experience a more vital and exciting life as they age. The nucleus of our community is a group of technology entrepreneurs, executives from the healthcare and aging services industries, and clinicians and caregivers. We are based in Silicon Valley, but are building a global community.

About The Sequoias

Located in the heart of San Francisco’s cultural corridor, The Sequoias – San Francisco, an accredited Life Care Community, is city living at its best. Designed to promote an active and engaging retirement for independent seniors, The Sequoias is only moments away from the Symphony, Ballet, Opera and Asian Art Museum.

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John Milford


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