The Work We Do

When we write about the impact and consequences of the aging Baby Boom population it’s typically with an eye towards the positives—such as the imperative on designers to woo this impressive group of consumers. Such benefits, however, do not come without consequences and there's a growing awareness of the risks posed by so-called “elder orphans”—those with fractured or nonexistent social networks who have reached the age where they require care.

Baby Boomers are likely to cause a rise in the number of such people, not simply because of the size of their generation but also because of the paradigm shift which led many not to have children at all. They were one of the first generations not to do so, and though the decision may not have been incorrect, the reality is that children often occupy the role of caretaker for older adults. Striking new research suggests that one in five Americans over 65 are, or are in danger of becoming, in this situation.

It’s a sobering reminder of the fact that, while we see ourselves as occupying an important and necessary intersection between the medical and consumer space, the real experience of real lives hang in the balance—and ultimately, the quality of those lives will depend in large part on our collective willingness to think meaningfully about problems and questions which are neither fun nor simple. As with any complex issue, the answer is sure to be nuanced; but we believe our work to be an critical component of a society which keeps a caring and watchful eye on all its human elements.

Hal Ebbott