The Case for Intergenerational Innovation

At our May Meet Up we had the honor of introducing three older adults who reside at The Hallmark. These three not only represent the people Aging 2.0 exists to serve through innovation, but also the people we aim to involve in the innovation process itself. It was clear that the Aging 2.0 network of innovators can benefit from the experience, wisdom and notable expertise of people like Dr. William Baumol, PhD, Dr. Monte Malach, MD, and Ms. Judy Gilbert.

By recapping the challenge each of them posed to the Aging 2.0 community here, we are emphasizing the importance of inter-generational participation--and calling for ideas from you, the public, on how to do it well.

About the Speakers:

Dr. William Baumol is a distinguished economist who advocates for the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in mainstream economic theory.  He has published over 40 books and 400 articles. He serves as professor of economics and academic director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, New York University, and professor emeritus, Princeton University. His latest book, The Cost Disease: Why Computers Get Cheaper and Healthcare Doesn’t, will be released this September. Oh, and Mr. Baumol is a mere 90 years old.

Dr. Monte Malach is a doctor of cardiology and internal medicine. Early in his career Dr. Malach served in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army. Since then he has led a remarkable career as a practitioner, teacher and leader in his field. At the age of 85 he is still actively serving on peer review boards, publishing papers to advance the medical community, and, most recently, contributing to Mr. Baumol’s aforementioned book.

Judy Gilbert is an incredibly talented and endearingly humble artist. She found art by using it for therapy, creating beautiful collages using magazine cut outs. Then, the world of art opened up exponentially when she discovered that she could use the Internet to tap into a limitless wealth of images and inspiration. That was Judy’s introduction to computers. Now she does all of her art digitally. Art has evolved from therapy to her way of keeping her brain sharp and staying engaged in the world.

Their Challenges:  

We asked each of these speakers to answer one question to kick off the evening: If this group of innovators assembled tonight could fix one thing, what should it be?

Mr. Baumol: China. While aging demographics presents economic and social challenges to countries around the world, Mr. Baumol warns the problems are going to be particularly severe in China. Its one child policy is hollowing out the population, causing unintended consequences as millions of people grow older in an unprecedented family structure. We got a sampling of how interesting Mr Baumol’s class must be through the primer he gave us on the policy decisions of the past years that threatens to pose a particular threat to China.

Dr. Malach: Ageism. Dr. Malach experienced age discrimination first-hand when he was told he must stop actively teaching medicine at the age of 75 from NYU University and State University of New York. Dr. Malach laments this because with all of his years of practice, he has tremendous value to bring to patients, medical students and residents. In addition, staying active mentally and physically is what he sees as the key to vitality as one ages, and our society often poses hurdles to maintaining it.

Ms. Gilbert: Exploit underutilized skills in the aging population. Ms. Gilbert pointed to the economist and doctor beside her as well as the artists, advertising icons, inventors and other luminaries whose talents are being wasted. While it’s common to bring in students to teach older adults new skills, how much better would it be to allow seniors to teach each other and those younger than them, tapping into the great store of knowledge that is lying dormant. If this kind of learning was adopted at The Hallmark, and at hundreds of other facilities around the US, the benefits would be enormous.

We heard these speakers loud and clear. At Aging 2.0 we are committed to being an example of inter-generational participation for the sake of innovation and progress.

Please weigh in with your ideas!  How can we tap into individuals such as Mr. Baumol, Dr. Malach and Ms. Gilbert for the benefit of our network of innovators?