Stanford Students Find Way To Improve Senior Living

Julia Little  |  September 24, 2014

Senior living just got a whole lot better thanks to a few students at Stanford University, Senior Housing News stated. A group of college students participated in the university's second annual design competition. The competition directly focuses on seniors by encouraging the students to come up with innovations for older adults. The university then partners with company Aging2.0, which gives start-ups a push in the right direction.

Collaborating efforts for a growing senior population
Aging2.0 is a company attempting to fill the hole in innovative products for the senior population. They've made some significant progress. Last year, they chose 11 companies to help jumpstart a Generators Founders program. More recently, the company partnered with Formation Capital to help raise money too. Together, the companies will fund the winning designs to allow them to be created and used in senior communities

The expected rates of senior population growth
Stanford believes this is the perfect opportunity for students and seniors, especially with the aging baby boomer demographic. The Administration on Aging predicted that by 2030, there will be 72.1 million older adults in the general population. That's 19 percent of the entire population and double the number of older adults in 2000. With the rapid increase of older adults, problems with mobility and daily function are rising.

A positive outlook
Last year's event brought together a promising set of ideas. The winning design was "Eatwell," which was created by Sha Yao, a student at San Francisco's Academy of Art University, who won the $10,000 grand prize. He designed utensils specifically to aid seniors dealing with dementia. Yao chose solid colors that wouldn't be deceptive to those with dementia, such as blue. Sometimes older adults with dementia may believe there's still food in a bowl because of a bowl's pattern.

Last year, the competition had 52 entries from 31 universities in total. The second-place winner was awarded $5,000 for designing a spoon that stirred appetite by electronically stimulating taste buds.This year's competition will focus on encouraging seniors' mobility. The hope is to get older adults to exercise more and knock down the fears about falling that sit in many retirement communities. Challenge director Ken Smith, who supervises the competition, believes that these designs are a step in the right direction. With the population expansion, innovation is needed crucially, he noted.

"This is a major change and is unprecedented, Smith explained. "This is a global challenge."

Seniors can look forward to the innovative designs and the possible products that come from the annual competition. 

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