BIF Awarded Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant

BIF is pleased to announce it has been awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to explore the "connected aging experience" and identify transformational models for connected aging. Our cultural view of aging is one focused on deteriorating health and the increasing need for care. When we see the problem this way, it frames how we respond and limits the possibilities and choice we have as we age. We need to look at the problem differently; we need to shift our thinking about what aging means.

We are grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for giving us the opportunity to explore the aging experience in a truly social world. We believe the crux of this effort requires shifting our thinking away from care and towards a focus on social participation. We believe that the future of aging can be characterized by how we contribute to our communities, families, and professional environments. Additionally, we believe that by focusing here, we also can improve general health as we age.

During the next several months, BIF will be sharing the story of the “connected aging experience,” directly through the lens of those aging in place by living independently.

Through this project, BIF seeks to:

  • Define the connected aging opportunity by focusing on an aging population who are increasingly living independently. By utilizing BIF's human-centered research and design platform, we want to deeply understand the social aspects of their experience, from where they go for social interactions to how it contributes to their health and well-being. Then, we want to bring community resources into the design process to ideate new models for connected aging.
  • Understand the experience of the independent aging market – where and how do they currently engage with others? How are their notions of identity affected by their relationships and interactions with others? How might we extend their health and independence through social interaction?
  • Map the communities, as well as the cultural attributes, in which we age – what cultural values are we up against as we age? What resources can we take advantage of? Who are the people that interact most with aging populations? Are there opportunities for extending their role and value?

BIF began exploring the aging experience in 2006 with its Nursing Home of the Future project. We discovered that the health of our relationships often defined our aging experience and affected everything from eating to planning the day to making financial decisions. We need new models for meeting the diverse and complex needs and interests of an aging population; models that are predicated on notions of health, fueled by relationships, and delivered on a promise of continued meaning and contribution. We are excited about the opportunity to continue BIF's exploration of transformational aging experience models and can't wait to engage with the BIF community on this important work.

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