Aging 2.0 Global Start Up Search – Toronto Winner!

How fortuitous that in our last blog post I mentioned Winterlight Labs – as they turned out to be the award winner of the May 24th Aging 2.0 Global Start Up Search – Toronto edition. Winterlight has developed a technology-based solution that “monitors cognitive health through speech recognition”.

R_kDc5Gc

These four young entrepreneur scientists bring their collaborative insights and expertise with a technology focus to help people who suffer, not only from dementia, but also for those who have other mental or cognitive health issues such as depression, stroke or autism.

For the past five years, there has been steady global development/fusion of technology and science connected to aging and longevity and, in the Greater Toronto market, we have our own players to be proud of in this field, which in large part is an untold story in the public domain.

Back in April 2012, three of us on the Planet Longevity team attended a Business of Aging Summit at the MaRS Discovery District and there met the pioneers at U of T’s TAGLab (Technologies for Aging Gracefully). We also heard Joseph Coughlin of MIT”s AgeLab speak. All of this was a real eye opener to the opportunities emerging in the technology space and how it will unfold in a practical way for a future longevity society.

Since then in 2015, AGE-WELL launched as a technology and aging network and of course US based Aging 2.0, which also endorses the Stanford Center on Longevity: Design Challenge, established its Toronto chapter. The field of aging and assistive technology has a growing list of supporters, promoters and collaborators too long to mention here, but the list includes researchers, educators, developers, business and health care networks and government and not-for profit organizations.

What is compelling about this story is that we are only beginning to see the benefits of these technologies in application today. Can you imagine how more ubiquitous this will all be within the next few years? Not to mention how much more there is to ideate and develop over the next decade; not just with assistive technologies but technologies in biology and genetics that will help improve extended lifetimes. One of Google’s 2013 spin off businesses, Calico is a prime example of this type of venture.

So congratulations to Winterlight Labs. What I would like to see is more of a broad public education campaign where the Business of Aging could perhaps be better relatable if it were to be called the Business of Aging & Longevity. So in the short run, Planet Longevity will use its platform to further endorse this Canadian story which further demonstrates that we are an innovation economy in more meaningful ways for the future of a longevity society.

 

Mark Venning

Empowered end of life care, to die with dignity.

One of the many opportunities of longevity is that we now have a more extended lifetime to make incremental life-stage decisions, including the choice to make our individual end of life plans. Despite this opportunity, most of us are reluctant to, or do not like to think about the eventuality of own death. If we do think about dying, we just cross our fingers and hope we will die asleep in own bed; or maybe somewhere else, comfortable, pain free, with dignity surrounded by loving family members.

Baby Boomers who have re-framed most cultural aspect of their lives from birth to retirement and everything in between are surprisingly slow to take the steps which would empower them to have more control of their preferred end of life care. Making personal care decisions and putting them in writing is a loving act of kindness to ourselves and for our appointed decision makers, but that planning takes time and thought.

At a very basic level of thoughtful concern – in Canada, a Power of Attorney for Property (both limited and general), Power of Attorney for Personal Care which are legal documents, and an Advance Directive (sometimes called a Living Will) which is a statement of preferred wishes, are tools to help people stay in control when they cannot speak for themselves. Each of the provinces and territories have their own style for these documents.

Advice from a lawyer and discussing decisions with your chosen executor make these directives more effective. The Ontario government has a booklet on-line A Guide to Advances Care Planning. Another source for information is Dying with Dignity, an organization founded in 1982. They offer an on line Advances Care Planning kit. Their web site has information on Canada’s right to die laws and information on assisted dying sometimes called End of Life Choices. This organization may not represent everyone’s idea of an end of life philosophy; but it does at least bring the term “dying with dignity” to public attention.
Take time to stay in charge, empowering end of life care and dying with dignity. Longevity is a gift – use it well.

Mary Ellen Tomlinson

Business Think Points: The Upside of Aging

If you are a new student to the subject of aging or longevity, trying to gain an appreciation of the “dawn of the multi-faceted world of extended lifetimes”, and how the world is changing, then the new compendium – The Upside of Aging by Paul H. Irving, President of the Milken Institute is a great starting point.

9781118691908.225x225-75

One of those books in the category of “pick up, put down” any time, Upside of Aging is sixteen separate articles or essays written by some of the top (mostly American) thought leaders in this subject area. For someone like me who has researched and built an extensive library on global aging and longevity issues this collection, though not big news, is a widely scoped quick reference.

Everything covered here is useful to provoke conversation more widely in your social or business circles, timely and comprehensive on topics included in the subtitle – health, work, innovation, policy and purpose. That’s what we need, enlightened provocation of ideas on these think points. Earlier I used the word dawn because for many people, they are just catching up to all this. Plus – the macro effects of the global demographic shift have not yet hit full stride.

As a business, community leader or politician you may be currently dealing with other pressing matters in the economy; so finding relevance or “upside” in any of these topics, near term or long term, may at first seem like a disconnect to an immediate bottom line outcome. So I suggest for you, start with Chapter 4 – Disruptive Demography: the New Business of Old Age by Joseph F. Coughlin. Check out his blog on MIT Age Lab.

Business in the fast lane already too much for you? Then the next best thing you could do is to read Chapter 6 – The New Global Economy, through an Aging Lens by Michael. W. Hodin; Executive Director of the Global Coalition on Aging.

One upside insight from reading any part of this collection is that how we view progress or prosperity will need to change based on how we reset the vocabulary of longevity.

Mark Venning