The Gray Migration
Teammates: Paulina Carlos, Mabel Chan, Sarah Ekblad, Thomas Gaskin, Kareem Hindi, Leon Hovanesian, Rodrigo Isasi, Parminder Kaur, Paul Keck, Laura Mattis, Douglas Radecki, Andrew Raines, Alisa Weinstein, Lingyi Xu, Yu Yin
What is the title of your proposal?
The Gray Migration
How would you describe it?
Our goal is to design the world we want to live and grow old in. We envision creating systems composed of technologies that exist in embryonic form today. Our solutions focus on creating systems of these technologies, combining them in effective services, and scaling them to meet global needs.
What does it fix and why?
An increase in population, combined with longer life expectancies will result in a variety of complex problems that cannot be addressed by a single solution. To properly understand a problem as complex and large scale as the Gray Migration we employed a systems level approach.
What makes it important?
In the last century most of the changes in the world have been grounded in the evolution of technology. Now we are experiencing a change grounded in demography. Advancements in healthcare have resulted in longer life expectancies and cultural shifts have influenced people’s decision to begin families later in life. Taken together these shifts and advancements have created a larger proportion of elderly in the population. We call this The Gray Migration. The effects of this are significant. Current working-age populations support current pensioners. With fewer youth to support the elderly, there will be shortages of resources. Although the effects will be most apparent in the developed world, this is not just a first world matter. Aging populations prevail or are developing in most countries around the world. The Gray Migration will have a salient role in all of our future living patterns: commerce, public policy and services, housing and community development, and perhaps most significantly, healthcare and financial planning.
This future holds opportunities to create new products and services that accommodate the specific needs of the senior population, as well as those who will care for them. Creating new jobs will be a vital part of the solution. As seniors live longer, they will increasingly remain in the workforce past the traditional retirement age. Seniors will demand positions that accommodate their capabilities and offer flexibility and choice in how they work.
New industries that emerge to provide for the needs of an aging population must be scalable. We will need to do more with less. We envision creating systems composed of technologies that exist in embryonic form today. Our design solutions focus on creating systems of these technologies, combining them in effective services, and scaling them to meet global needs. We view the challenges as opportunities to improve life across society. It is important to not only consider seniors today, but every age group as they make decisions that impact their future. Our solutions would foster empathy for our future older selves.
How do the photos or renderings illustrate the concept?
There are two types of images provided. Narratives put problems and solutions into context. System Elements explain how each solution would work. We have a total of 4 Narratives and 22 System Elements which are highlighted in the supporting documentation. We identified four cornerstones to address the world that results from the Gray Migration.
With its emphasis on private transportation, our existing transportation system is woefully unprepared to meet the needs of a growing elderly population. Ensuring that elderly have access to their community and the wider world necessitates re-evaluation of how everyone, not just the elderly, moves around the world.
Entitlement systems will struggle to support the influx of recipients, especially as the number of workers supporting them proportionally shrinks. An emphasis on improved financial planning and developing new job opportunities for seniors is needed for a financially solvent future.
Elderly individuals’ living needs change dramatically as they undergo changes in mobility, caretaker access, family proximity and companionship. A re-evaluation of the current models of elderly living and aging in place will be necessary.
Enabling the elderly to play an active role in their community has both a mental and physical benefits. Interactions between young and old generations will be a catalyst for community interaction for both generations.
We are not the first to look at this problem. Researchers at MIT AgeLabs, LeadingAge, the Mayo Clinic as well as many other places are working on products and other solutions that will help us address any number of potential problems. What we hope to add is a systemic view of this problem space. Building off solutions, plans, and other work already in progress, we created a framework for a future that is designed.
What is your business plan for realizing your proposal?
We stress using existing and developing solutions in comprehensive systems. Our plan is to take these existing solutions and products and package them in intelligent and targeted ways. We would create integrated services in the areas of dwellings, mobility, finances, and social enabling.
Because our proposal is so comprehensive, it would be difficult to implement all 22 elements. We would keep in mind what’s possible in the near and long term, and use that as a map for planning projects. Promising solutions would be treated as individual startups and worked on at 1871, a local incubator, where they would be further developed. This would include prototyping and testing with potential users. Projects needing more development would be turned into workshops at our institution for students to further prototype and test. The most viable, feasible, and desirable solutions would be presented to venture capitalists, the Pew Research Center, Mayo Clinic, and the Gates Foundation for guidance, resources, and support.