By Esko Aho
former Prime Minister of Finland, Chairman of the Board of Cinia Oy and Adven Group and Club de Madrid member
“Thirty years from now a good life will be one that’s fully controlled by individuals themselves.”
The future of aging lies beyond standardization, according to Esko Aho, Chairman of the Board of Cinia Oy and Adven Group.
A transformation that is poised to lead healthcare innovation over the coming decades is the shift from standardization to personalization across all facets of society. From pharmaceuticals to service design, the move towards tailor-made solutions is raising our standard of living. “One of the mental hurdles society must collectively overcome along the way,” explains Esko Aho, former Prime Minister of Finland, Chairman of the Board of Cinia Oy and Adven Group and Club de Madrid member, “is the belief that all care is good care.”
In fact, he argues that less care is probably good care: “We need only the minimum amount, but it must be of a high quality, so that people can live independently. A good life is one that’s fully controlled by individuals themselves. Autonomy and the capacity to live with limited support is what we’re aiming for.” Digital innovation will be instrumental in reaching this goal. Thirty years from now, when 100-year life spans are common, Aho foresees personalized Artificial intelligencepowered solutions such as voice assistants assisting those with reduced capabilities to remain independent for as long as possible.
The former Prime Minister of Finland first became interested in the transformative potential of information technology in the late ’70s, and has taken an active interest in implementing it throughout both his private and public sector positions ever since. Most recently, he has been instrumental in the organization of the Silver Economy Forum, led under the banner ‘silver is the new green’—alluding to the manifold economic and other opportunities presented by the ‘silver economy’.
“In order to leverage this potential,” Aho adds, “our whole society needs to be redefined. The key lies in technological developments. When digital solutions become available en masse, it will have a rather similar impact in every sector—the transformation from standardized solutions to personalized ones.”
To support the necessary technological transformation, shifts in policy are also required. We are already seeing the trend of retirement shifting from a standardized age—commonly 65 across Europe—to a sliding scale that takes into account the needs and lifestyles of every individual. Aho predicts this will continue to increase in flexibility over the coming decades, given the varying capabilities and priorities of those aged over 65. “Retirement will become a process. It may take ten or 15 years. Many changes will be required to our political infrastructure, social services and the way we conceive of working life to make it possible for the older workforce to continue in the best possible way,” he says.
In order to rethink “our future 100-year life society” younger generations, too, must understand that they have a stake in the issue—that an aging society impacts all generations. Intrinsic to this is a redesign of the trajectory our life spans to include ongoing education at every stage, not just in the earlier years: “When you retire, you have to be able to contribute to society.”
This article is part of our “30 Years From Now“ series that asks innovators and experts on aging to share their vision of what the world in the light of the global demographic shift will or should look like in thirty years. Please find further articles below.