America is aging—fast. By the end of the decade, there will be more people over the age of 65 than under 5 for the first time in history. By 2050, the former will outnumber the latter 2-to-1. This demographic shift requires changes to every aspect of American life, starting with healthcare.
“As we get older, no matter how good we are at keeping healthy, our bodies need more care,” Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Vice President of Connected Health at Partners HealthCare, says. Indeed, older people face a variety of challenges in living happy, healthy, productive lives, and the tendency for increasing medical issues with advancing age is just one. The growing number of happy, healthy and productive older adults is undoubtedly good news, but it’s not always treated as such.
“Policymakers and to some degree economists see a huge burden” in the aging of the Baby Boomers, according to Dr. Christine Cassel, who recently completed her term as Planning Dean at the new Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine in Pasadena, California. “In fact, they ought to be seeing a huge opportunity.” After all, older Americans already contribute some $7 billion per year to the economy, a number that’s sure to rise. “It’s not a niche market,” adds Cassel, former American Board of Internal Medicine President and CEO.
Seizing those opportunities, however, and enabling older Americans to age successfully is a multifaceted endeavor that requires collaboration across several fields. The annual d.health Summit, organized by the University of Rochester and co-hosted by West Health, has become a crucial venue for such collaboration, bringing together world-class leaders across technology, healthcare and policy to disrupt aging.