TALKS | Health and healthy society

Older, Informed, Wiser: Behavioral Change towards Healthy and Active Ageing

Karthikeyan Gopinathan, Xensible Innovation Lab India  
Srilakshmi Krishnaswamy, India  

Baby boomers are the oldest generation alive. Life expectancy of the baby boomers was just over 32 years. But with the advances in healthcare, they are currently living to over 67-70 years. It is now projected, that the millennials would live much longer over 77 years. With such longer lifespans, more time at hand, a new set of challenges arises to ensure a good quality of life well into our older years.  

While the ageing population is on the rise, this calls for a constructive perspective of how we can engage these potent experienced and skilful populations, rather than considering them as a healthcare burden. The official retirement age is still in the range of 60s and it creates a mental barrier to envision an active or working lifestyle beyond their 60. We have always had a chronic passivity towards our older selves and our elderly. This passivity has disengaged the 60+ from the workings of the society. In turn isolating them, breaking down their relevance and deteriorating their cognitive wellness and mental health.  

We are thus justified that this self-limited cultural conditioning begs transformation. And the need for such active and healthy senior years has never been more in focus than now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In this paper, using system oriented design, we seek to build a pragmatic framework for building behavioural change towards healthy and active ageing. Our user group will therefore be the Generation X currently 41-55 years, and baby boomers currently 56-76 years. We attempt to account for the multiple factors that dictate their agency towards making lifestyle changes, and thwarts the ability to imagine a future for self.  

We will be elaborating one of the outcomes of this framework – The Old Is Bold tool. This tool aims to build visual conversations of the future self and family, which otherwise remain dormant unless an event in the present triggers the saliency of the future. This tool aims to discuss not only traditional geriatric giants from a medical point of view but a more holistic perspective taking cues from the WHO’s Active ageing framework.  

This exploration is an outcome of passionate and dedicated research of more than 2 years of the authors.