Taking a break from life in riot-torn London, I came across this item at the FT about some of the implications of longer lifespans. It is a mixed situation. Excerpt:
“Maxmin admits there are no miraculous solutions to the problems of a fast-ageing society. We will all have to work longer, save more and pay more in tax to cover the costs of a world with a greyer population. Even so, he thinks models like Elder Power can have a much wider application. Perhaps moments like the collapse of Southern Cross, he tells me, could (in the right hands) become moments of opportunity. More generally, models like Beacon Hill Village, ITNAmerica and Elder Power show glimpses of a future in which more elderly people can stay in their homes for longer. All three use innovative technology, make use of assets in their local community and bring together the resources of local businesses, volunteers and the state to solve problems none could have solved individually, at reasonable cost.”
How we deal with ageing, and the issue of longer lifespans, is of course intertwined with the current fiscal breakdown of many developed economies. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing. And in that Greg Lindsay and John Kasarda book I have been linking to lately, about the impact of mass aviation, there is a segment on how said aviation can be used to dramatically reshape healthcare, such as by flying people with problems to cheaper, but arguably better run, hospitals in Asia. It struck me while reading this book that while automobiles and consumer electronics have been propelled by their Henry Fords, Michael Dells and Steve Jobses, we haven’t really had, in healthcare, a similar set of individuals to drive innovation and push things sharply down the price curve. The dynamics of Silicon Valley, allied with cheap Chinese manufacturing and just-in-time stock inventory systems, hardly touches healthcare at all, although this is starting to change, perhaps. Of course, much of this is caused by how healthcare is seen, wrongly in my view, as somehow “different” from such vulgar things as selling flatscreen TVs or cars. Healthcare is political. That’s the problem.