Sometime in the near future, you might be helping to design a new pill bottle that’s easier for arthritic hands to open. Or maybe volunteering as a “wellness coach” – a core member of a medical team caring for a senior.
These are two of 133 concepts that were created, refined and upvoted by a global community of thinkers and doers who accepted the challenge: “How might we all maintain wellbeing and thrive as we age?”
The challenge, sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, was developed by the crowdsourcing innovation platform Open IDEO. The OpenIDEO community is open to anyone who wants to take on challenges, working together online with others to come up with and build ideas and then pick the most promising.
During the voting phase of the aging challenge, we told you about 10 of our favorite ideas. Now, the Mayo and Open IDEO have picked the six winners. Winning ideas stand a good chance of being implemented in partnership with relevant sectors and organizations.
Here they are:
- Seniors as wellness coaches Are you health savvy? Great at communicating? There might be a new volunteer opportunity for you soon. One of our picks during the voting stage of the challenge, “A bridge to wellness” connects healthcare students with senior volunteers who serve as wellness coaches, creating support teams for aging community members when they make doctor visits. The wellness coaches will provide peer-to-peer support and help the healthcare students understand the needs of older patients. Given the shortage of gerontologists – doctors who are trained to understand the needs of older patients – senior advisors could make a valuable addition to a health care team.
- Participatory design pods This idea was sparked by a comment Senior Planet made on the Open IDEO site soon after the challenge launched. In response to the wording of the challenge brief, we commented: “…the perspective of the pitch assumes that the people engaging with this challenge are not old and that younger people will be coming up with the solutions. I hope we all get a chance to offer our insights, experiences and good ideas!” New-product strategist Sylvia Stein ran with the comment and came up with a simple concept: Bring the design-thinking methodology to aging communities. After all, who knows the design needs of seniors better than seniors? The concept calls for physical spaces within senior or community centers where older people can participate in a structured, facilitated design-thinking process to create solutions for aging-related issues and challenges. A test run is currently being planned in a Greenwich Village, New York apartment complex where many seniors are aging in place.
- Pop-up wellness lounges This idea – another of our picks during the voting stage – was inspired by reports about older people in China who gather at IKEA because it’s a comfortable space to hang out and meet other people. In this version, temporary wellness lounges will be created in vacant storefronts or community spaces and staffed by wellness coaches, who are trained to answer health questions, point people to information and program events; people can meet here to attend demonstrations, classes and health-related talks – or just to check in and socialize. Read more.
- Shared decision-making tools You go to the doctor; the doctor delivers a hurried and worrying diagnosis; you go home and start trying to deal with your situation.Your grownup kids are out of the loop and your doctor has moved on. This tool is designed to close the gap so that you, your doctor and your grownup kids (if you choose) can handle medical situations as a team. It helps you ask the right questions; it helps the doctor become more responsive to your needs; and it helps your kids support you emotionally and practically. Read more.
- The Sandwich Game is a mobile app for “sandwich” parents – people who are caring for kids and their own parents, too. The app, which is city-based, encourages members of this sandwich generation to come up with and share creative activities for making day-to-day care engaging, healthy, fun – and multigenerational.
- Caregiver toolkits According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, “More than one-third of caregivers provide intense and continuing care to others while suffering from poor health themselves.” And in many cases, the need to provide care comes suddenly when you’re lest prepared. This toolkit answers the needs of untrained and ill-prepared caregivers with a mix of digital resources – how-to videos and resource directories on legal, financial, emotional and other issues; online support groups – as well as comfort packages of goodies to lift the lives of caregivers. Read more.
We’re eager to see how these ideas develop as they move toward implementation!
Which idea are you most interested in seeing materialize? Tell us in the comments below.