Check our Healthy Ageing Halo for more insight into factors affecting how we age.
As we dive into the Ideas phase for the Healthy Ageing Challenge, we thought we'd share our Challenge Themes to guide your thinking and designs. At their core, Themes represent specific areas of opportunity for our ideas – ones that have been identified through conversations with our sponsor Mayo Clinic, as well as through the common patterns our community surfaced during Inspiration .
You'll find more detail on the Healthy Ageing Themes at the top of the Ideas phase page. In the meantime, h ere's a quick Themes rundown to get your energy flowing:
Relationships are valuable at any age but for older adults they can be especially beneficial. The friendship that a circle of family and friends provides to an older adult not only impacts their physical health but also mental and emotional wellbeing. Relationships can also improve an older person's sense of independence and self-worth, and combat isolation. Yet these benefits go both ways: whether it's knowledge sharing, skill trading or friendly companionship, older adults who share their experience and compassion with each other and other generations feel more connected and more valued in their communities.
- How might we design for these relationships to form or be sustained, and to celebrate them when they do?
- What bridges or connectors might enable older adults to participate meaningfully in their current communities, even when issues of access, mobility, memory or other limitations arise?
Living an active lifestyle – being physically fit, continually learning, staying curious and participating in one's social circle – can dramatically improve our quality of life, wellbeing, outlook on life and sense of self. Yet for many people, both old and young, it can be difficult to get started or maintain this kind of lifestyle. This can be particularly true when we're faced with adversity or life changes that create roadblocks for our efforts: less mobility than we used to have, an accident or fall that has affected our exercise routine, feeling disconnected from our social circle when we move, etc.
- How might we design small nudges or bigger behavior changes to help people kickstart their efforts to live actively?
- What ideas might support people who've gotten off track due to accident, illness or other circumstances?
Design Thriving Environments
When it comes to our own ageing, everyone has unique needs, priorities, fears and desires. To address these individual circumstances and goals, older adults today are in search of flexible environments, systems and arrangements that enable them to live and age the way that works best for them. Whether it's designing new models for communal or intergenerational housing, or rethinking how space, layout or design can impact our mood and wellbeing, older adults and the people involved in their care are taking an empowered approach to designing and creating new environments for ageing.
- What environments, spaces or living arrangements might enable ageing adults to thrive with their own diverse needs in mind?
- How might we alter various systems or structures – for instance, local zoning laws that impact how residential buildings are used – to provide more flexibility and adaptability in our ageing?
Plan for the Future
For many people, ageing can feel like a scary, emotional and complex topic – and thus it's not always something we want to plan for. Yet planning ahead for our own ageing, no matter how old we are, is critical – particularly when we reach times of transition or crisis (eg. starting a new job, getting married, having a child, falling ill, having an accident, losing a loved one, etc).
- How might we enable shifts - in our mindset, our behaviours, even our cultures - to make ageing a topic we want to discuss and plan for at every age?
- How might we encourage people to take personal responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, no matter their age?
Care for Caregivers
Ageing is not done in a vacuum – it's a multigenerational experience that involves every member of a family. When we think of caregiving for people as they age, let's keep in mind:
- Caregiving can take many forms: adult children care for ageing parents; grandparents help raise grandchildren; extended family may be called in for last-minute care in emergencies.
- Caregiving is not one-directional: as much as one person may provide care to someone else, that caregiver also needs to receive support in order to maintain his or her own health and wellbeing.
- What tools or guides might help caregivers have conversations about care with ageing relatives, parents or friends?
- What government policies, workplace initiatives or other programs can equip and support people who care for ageing family – while also caring for their own physical, mental and emotional health?
What new ideas do these Themes spark for you? We're excited to see what you come up with. We'd especially encourage you to reach out to older folks in your lives to discuss your thoughts across the Ideas phase and help iterate them for heightened impact. You might even think about actually prototyping some small aspect of your idea during the Ideas phase and update your post with learnings as you try things out. Let's keep our ideas agile and collaborate to strengthen them as we go.
Eager for more ways to learn about and join in our collaborative Ideas phase? Check out our Healthy Ageing Halo for more ageing insight and download our Brainstorm in a Box toolkit to kickstart your designs.