From Gerontechnology to Silver Innovation: Moving beyond classical frontiers

From Gerontechnology to Silver Innovation: Moving beyond classical frontiers

For a long time, the domain of Gerontechnology has been considered as technologies for autonomy. Anchored in a vision that reduced aging to loss of autonomy — since this happened very early in the course of the age — the place of gerontechnologies must be rethought in the light of the new challenges posed by the revolution of longevity.

Indeed, increase in active life expectancy should encourage us to broaden the definition of Gerontechnology, considering it as the domain of thinking and designing products and services that take into account the needs of older people in a “Design for old, Design for all” approach.

This evolution accompanies a change in the vision of aging, thanks to the knowledge arising from contemporary multidisciplinary research, which suggests that individual aging must be considered as a trajectory whose dynamics can be positively altered through the adoption of positive lifestyles that exploit the plasticity of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system.

Thus, it is now essential to include in the perimeter of Gerontechnologies those devoted to Active and Healthy Aging. In other words, we must move from a conception of aging as “lifespan”, in which health prevention, well-being, participation, inclusion, education, travel, etc. are dominant concerns in older adults.

It is therefore not surprising that focus is shifting since gerontechnology, in its classical definition, is now only a part of innovations for seniors. Indeed, many of them relate to areas associated with the Active and Healthy Aging (AHA).

This should rather lead us to talk of Silver Innovation to account for the domain that aims to help support Active and Healthy Aging (AHA) in all its dimensions. Silver innovation is a response to the new challenge resulting from the longevity revolution that is, improving active life expectancy, quality of life and well-being of the growing number of older adults. Located at the crossroad of research, technology, medicine/public health and economy, Silver Innovation capitalizes on cross-fertilization of a new positive vision of aging (i.e., the existing plasticity of the aging neuro-musculo-behavioral system), new solutions offered by rapidly emerging technologies (e.g., big data, connected objects, robotics…) and new players (e.g., start-up) in the market that include seniors’ needs, expectations and uses in a lifespan approach to products and services encompassing all domains of activity. Its ultimate goal is enhancing quality of life of all older adults, whatever their functional status that is, robust, frail or dependent.

 

This should lead us to propose a functional taxonomy of Silver Innovation, which would classify existing and forthcoming products and services as a function of their primary objective, namely either building and maintaining capacities and resilience, reversing, stopping or slowing the loss of capacities or compensating for loss of autonomy.