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Soliciting young minds to help older adults

The young helping the elderly is not a new practice, but designing products aimed at the aging population might be a novel idea. An article in today's Stanford Report highlights the Stanford Center on Longevity's Design Challenge, a contest "focused on cognitive impairments – trouble with remembering things, concentration, learning new things or making decisions," and is aimed at encouraging students to "work toward solutions that help keep people who are affected by these issues independent as long as possible."

As Brooke Donald reports:

According to most surveys, more than 80 percent of older adults want to "age in place," meaning they want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

"It's a hard topic to solve for, but we hope to get really unique designs that can eventually be put into the marketplace," said Ken Smith, director of the Mobility Division at the Stanford Center on Longevity.

Smith said challenging twentysomethings to come up with solutions for an older generation puts the students in a different mindset than usual – "one they may not necessarily jump to when they think about designing products" – but one they will definitely need to think of at some point in their lives.

"The aging of our society is going to affect younger people as much as older people, so we think there's an educational value to getting design teams engaged in this issue," Smith said.

The design competition will have its formal kickoff event on Tuesday and is currently accepting submissions for Phase I of the challenge.

Previously: A look at the benefits of an aging society and The effects of an aging planet

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