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Healthy Ageing Challenge: Q&A with Mayo Clinic

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In OpenIDEO's Healthy Ageing Challenge, we're exploring how each of us can maintain wellbeing and thrive as we age. To learn more about our challenge sponsor's interest in the topic, we checked in with Francesca Ripple, Public Affairs Communications Manager for the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation at Mayo Clinic.
For folks who might not know, what is Mayo Clinic?
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy of "the needs of the patient come first."
Mayo Clinic developed gradually from the medical practice of a pioneer doctor, Dr. William Worrall Mayo, who settled in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1863. His dedication to medicine became a family tradition when his sons, Drs. William James Mayo and Charles Horace Mayo, joined his practice in 1883 and 1888, respectively. From the beginning, innovation was their standard and they shared a pioneering zeal for medicine. As the demand for their services increased, they asked other doctors and basic science researchers to join them in the world's first private integrated group practice. Although they were initially viewed as unconventional for practicing medicine through this teamwork approach, the benefits of a private group practice were undeniable. Through the years, Mayo Clinic has nurtured and developed its founders' style of working together as a team – today there are more than 55,000 doctors, nurses, scientists, students and allied health staff at Mayo Clinic locations in the Midwest, Arizona and Florida.
Why is ageing a topic we should all be thinking about?
There are currently about 40 million people in the U.S. over the age of 65. In 2030, that number will have skyrocketed to nearly 70 million. With Medicare/Medicaid currently comprising 25% of the total federal budget, it’s imperative that the United States begins to seriously consider the challenges brought about by this changing population.
Mayo Clinic is especially focused on exploring the concept of health span vs. lifespan. Age related disease is the number one driver of healthcare costs; equally important, age is also the biggest risk factor for almost all chronic diseases, more than all other risk factors combined. The longer a patient can remain healthy and independent, the higher their quality of life and the lower their total health care costs. In fact, in the last three years of life, people who live to 100 have 65% fewer healthcare costs than those that die in their 70’s.
And that's just in the US! Aging is an issue that significantly impacts the health and wellbeing of everyone around the world – it is and must be a global priority.
What excites you most about the Healthy Ageing Challenge on OpenIDEO?
What is truly exciting is having the whole world participate in the sharing of knowledge, good ideas, and inspiration. We know that true innovation can only occur when we look outside of our own boxes and collaborate with many. The OpenIDEO platform enables collaboration in a very transparent way, utilizing social media and online networks to the fullest. The community around OpenIDEO has representation from around the globe, and aging effects everyone regardless of race, income or geography. The science of healthy aging is all around us, and the power of open innovation and conversation elevates ideas that everyone can learn form and adopt.
Have any tips for ways each of us can support healthy ageing in our communities?
Yes! Here are a few:
  • Reach out to elderly neighbors or their caregivers to provide help with small tasks or just to say “hello”. This gives a much bigger emotional and social boost than you can imagine. Bring dinner over, or invite them to your home, to show you are engaged and care. You’ll also be surprised at how this can add richness to your life too.
  • Actively build a foundation for your health as you age. Encourage others to be active as well! Twenty minutes of exercise a day will provide huge benefits as you age. Join a walking club, a running club, a soccer club – these are all great ways to get out in the community.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and help others do the same through volunteering, encouragement, or hosting dinners.
  • Give elderly people in your community rides to where they need to go. Transportation can be a major hurdle.

  • Healthy aging starts when we are young: encourage your local, state, and federal representatives to support anything that promotes education, healthy eating choices, or promotes activity and exercise.
Cheers, Fran, for sharing these insights with us.
Eager to join in? Check out our Healthy Ageing Challenge  Inspiration phase and share your stories.
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