Needed: Federal Leadership on R&D for Our Aging Society
by Adam Felts
Joe Coughlin and Luke Yoquinto write in the Boston Globe on the need for federal investment in technologies and services to support older adults and caregivers as the population ages. The op-ed is part of a series of articles at the Globe called The Longevity Hub. The authors write:
"Federal leadership elevating R&D for our aging society needs to be a top priority. Eldercare, for instance, is in dire need of a technological breakthrough. Demand for professional care is already outstripping the existing home care workforce. The size of the population requiring assistance is growing so rapidly that, barring changes to the national workforce (which might be achieved by welcoming in more immigrants, already responsible for a disproportionate share of care work), it will become harder to fill these positions over time. Costs will go up, and many older adults may be forced to go without the support they deserve — and require.
Technological and research breakthroughs could change this equation. More research is needed in the field of robotics, for instance, before machines can safely help families and eldercare professionals with crucial, backbreaking jobs, such as helping someone out of bed. Further work is also required to better explore how older adults and their families actually use technologies — knowledge critical to making sure new devices genuinely improve lives...
The federal government must step up and provide not only funding but something even harder to come by: leadership. A new federal agency could serve as an agenda-setting and convening force, connecting business innovators with researchers on topics ranging from molecules to marketing, policies to financial products. Such an agency could launch a nationwide education initiative arming service professionals, from geriatricians to geriatric care managers, with technologies and strategies designed to make their lives easier and their work more effective..."
Read the full article at the Boston Globe.