January 12, 2010 1 Comment
Last week we were pleased to be able to take part in Peter Day’s In Business programme on BBC Radio 4 which was looking at the ageing marketplace. The programme was eclectic, wide-ranging and extremely interesting. Its main focus being on a number of new developments – in the UK, US and internationally – which are being created to meet the changing needs of our increasingly long-lived population.
Personal robots and individual monitoring systems, when finally refined and brought to market, have the potential to revolutionise later life care of the elderly, enabling many to stay in their own homes rather than having to be institutionalised. Advances in medical science will also enable better self-management of increasingly prevalent diseases such as diabetes.
On the basis of these developments alone (and there must be thousands more) the future is exciting. But underneath it all, we need to take on board a couple of salient points. Such advances will need paying for and, as with any new product, won’t at first be cheap. This means that people themselves need to factor the cost of such items as home monitoring systems into their later life financial planning – it is unlikely the cost will be able to be met by the state. So choices will have to be made, another round-the-world trip or saving the money for later life care?
Second, and perhaps the key message, is that these developments are taking place and will become real whether we like it or not. As we have seen in the past few decades, the march of technology is fast and unrelenting. What is lagging behind, as ever, is our ability as humans to change our thinking and attitudes fast enough to keep pace and fully realise and appreciate the implications – positive and negative. If only someone could invent a machine to enable us all to do that… that really would be a breakthrough.
If you would like to listen to the programme or find out more about the technological and medical advances discussed click on here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pl1h3