"Aging Baby Boomers, Business & Future Innovations in Housing" was the title of the keynote on Friday presented by Joseph Coughlin, Ph.D., Director of the MIT AgeLab. He literally talked about everything from kitchens to bathrooms, Wal-Mart, NASA and iRobots.
According to the PCBC one-sentence bio, he was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of America's 12 Pioneers in reinventing the future of retirement and aging. Dr. Coughlin shared how "this disruptive demographic will help shape the future of public policy and drive innovation across global industries - including housing."
How might this relate to you and me?
First, let me say I'm one of the "boomers" who's experienced health issues. Once told I might never walk again, I came to understand how non-supportive my home environment was to my health and independence. If there's one thing us boomers - or almost anyone - dislikes, it's not being able to do what we want, especially under our own power, instead of relying on others to help us.
That's when I started my discovery journey towards healthy, functional design solutions and green remodel practices that I could implement in my home. We all need to be aware of the issues and possibilities.
Second, many of us - my clients and myself included - have experienced financial issues during this economically challenged time. Working instead of retiring is now on most of our minds. Due to this "prolonged work, delayed retirement" phase of our life, our homes have been, and still are, changing in their functions and roles in our lives.
Who really knows where this will go?
A few trends are:
- We want to stay in our homes in communities we know.
- As our retirement funds have diminished, we may work more from home. This might be due to a number of factors, like advanced technologies that allow us to do things previously thought impossible to do except in the office environment. Or, as we shift our consciousness to include more of our passions into our everyday lives, we become small business entrepreneurs with home-based offices.
- There's a smaller future. Empty nesters & single-child households dominate the market. With this diminished physical capacity, there is less need for the "family size" packages and "big box" stores.
There is much more to share, which I will do in future posts. Let's just say I have already seen some of what Dr. Coughlin stated through either my personal experience or those of my clients. I found it to be a fascinating talk filled with thoughtful insights and poignant points to ponder.