Dr. Joe Coughlin, MIT AgeLab Director Explains Why “Old Age is Made Up”

Dr. Joe Coughlin, MIT AgeLab Director Explains Why “Old Age is Made Up”

Today I’m joined by the innovative Dr. Joe Coughlin – the founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. Recognizing that our society hasn’t adapted to meet the needs of our growing older generation, the MIT AgeLab was created as a multidisciplinary research program that works with business, government, and NGOs to improve the quality of life of older people and those who care for them. Just one example includes creating a suit that can be worn by students, product developers, engineers, architects, and others to experience the physical challenges of a person in their mid-70s. In addition to leading the AgeLab, Dr. Coughlin teaches in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning and the Sloan School’s Advanced Management Program. He was named by Fast Company Magazine as one the ‘100 Most Creative in Business’ and by the Wall Street Journal as inventing the future of retirement. His recent book, The Longevity Economy: Inside the World’s Fastest Growing, Most Misunderstood Market, is one of CEO READ’s Business Bestsellers.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         This is truly a generation that believes that there’s a pill, a product, an experience that’s going to make living longer better. So now what we have is a new market, a new market of demand and expectation that old age is actually old news.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Welcome to A Second Opinion podcast where we are re-thinking American health. I’m your host Senator Bill Frist. To make sense of all the dynamic perspectives in healthcare, you need a trusted source engaging at the intersection of policy, medicine and innovation. You need A Second Opinion, a podcast where it all comes together. Today I’m joined by the innovative Dr. Joe Coughlin, the founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. Recognizing that our society hasn’t adapted to meet the needs of our growing older generation, the MIT AgeLab was created as a multidisciplinary research program that works with business and government and non government organizations to improve the quality of life of older people and those who care for them.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Just one example includes creating a suit that can be worn by students, product developers, engineers, architects and others, to actually experience the physical challenges of a person in their mid 70s. In addition to leading the AgeLab, Dr. Coughlin teaches in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and the Sloan School’s Advanced Management Program. He was named by Fast Company Magazine as one of the 100 most creative in business. And by the Wall Street Journal as inventing the future of retirement. His recent book, The Longevity Economy: Inside the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market, is one of CEO READ’s Business Bestsellers.

Senator Bill Fr…:           And now please join me and our guest for A Second Opinion. Over the next few minutes I’d like to talk with you Joe about three really interesting topics. And then let’s talk about a whole range of things that some of which stem from your book, The Longevity Economy, which I want to get to because it sets the large thematic. But then I’d also like for you to walk me and our viewers and our listeners through the MIT AgeLab.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Sure.

Senator Bill Fr…:           What it is, start with the basics and I’ve heard so much about it and read so much about it, but a lot of people have not. So I like to just take a tour with you. And then third come to some topical issues that you’ve written about a lot, that you speak about a lot as you go around the country. And that is how age, women, leadership fit together. So let’s lay that out right up front. But let’s start. What is The Longevity Economy? The title of your book.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Sure. As I frame it, The Longevity Economy is not just about the fact that there’s more older people, and every day I look in the mirror I can see that myself, but the next generation of older adults and frankly even those who are clicking over at 74 once every few seconds in the United States today, is about a new generation gap. So at the risk of talking about the baby boomers more than we already have for several decades. Then the real difference between the baby boomers and their parents is not just the fact that they have more college education than any generation in history. It’s not that they have more money than any generation in history, even though it’s not, shall we say evenly distributed. What is it’s expectations?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Think about this. Since the day they were born, we made more hospitals, we made more schools, we invented shopping malls. We paved even more payments so they could go to and fro where they want. This is not the generation that’s going to be like their parents. That’s going to sit at home rocking back and forth, hoping that the van picks them up maybe in the same day that they scheduled it, or hoped that the grandchildren might come and visit. This is truly a generation that believes that there’s a pill, a product an experience that’s going to make living longer, better. So now what we have is a new market, a new market of demand and expectation that old age is actually old news.

Senator Bill Fr…:           And when you say old age is made up, what does that mean?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         So you could appreciate this particularly being a physician. The notion of old age, that you’re tired, that you retire and it’s time to sit back is not just on the what has become almost a law of physics at 65 or thereabouts as retirement age, but British medicine and the US medicine followed through very quickly in the 1800s, around the notion of you were only born with a certain amount of energy, vital energy. And if you used it badly, which by the way meant anything fun and maybe not so good, made you drain that energy. And suddenly we started describing old age as well. You can go through a certain therapy or you’re getting tired or maybe some sort of dementia was a problem.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         These were all signals that you are draining your vital energy. Suddenly we started defining old age as not a glass that was half full, but one that was half empty. And when we started just finding people as being tired and unable in the time that it was being developed in the 18 early 1900s, well they can’t work because really humans were basically cogs in a wheel. We’re not the knowledge workforce that we are today. So we created a myth that around vital energy that we would run out of energy. And we would translate people that were not able to work anymore because they were tired and physically unable, and we needed them to work in factories.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         And so the myth said, basically, “Look if you’re not energetic enough to be a good cog in that wheel, we need to find a way to pull you out of it. So we started creating things like retirement and pension plans, not just because we needed a social net, but we needed to start a showy, we say, to make a way to make it easy to pull this older cog in the wheel out, because at that point we still had a long line of young people wanting those jobs.

Senator Bill Fr…:           All right.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         So suddenly the myth of vital energy had turned older adults who had always been productive throughout history. No longer into producers but into consumers, into people only with needs and as we’d see later when there was more wealth and system, then they became now… Considered needy and greedy.

Senator Bill Fr…:           And we’ll talk about this a little bit later, but this change in this sort of myth and the cracking of the myth from a business perspective, the way businesses actually view the population, the consumers today has changed as the demographics have changed.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Yeah, it’s changing painfully slowly because it’s difficult to change. If you think about a business largely at the boomers own fault has been taught that if I can understand you between 18 and 30, I have you for life, and with the baby boomers having so many of them when they were young trained business and government into focusing in on the young, not incorrect but incomplete. But now that the boomers are older, they’ve created institutions that are unable and unwilling to look at the older consumer defined as anything over 50 as having needs as well as wants.

Senator Bill Fr…:           And so the listening part of that and the construction of response to that. Again, we’ll come back to it when you’re talking about The Longevity Economy. Well, let’s shift gears just a little bit because in Boston you run a MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab and walk us into the AgeLab and go ahead and start a little bit in terms of perspective and frame it for us. Where did the AgeLab come from and then what is going on there today?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         So I started the AgeLab nearly 20 years ago. We are based in the School of Engineering, but we draw upon the School of Architecture and Science and certainly in humanities, social science and the like. And when I started it, it was on an issue that I had a great deal of experience when I was working in government around older drivers. And older drivers are perennially an issue that’s trapped somewhere between humor and horror. And even though there is no science as to what an older driver is, because I can say definitively birthdays don’t kill, health conditions do when it’s behind the wheel.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         I want to do investigate, gee, instead of asking how old is an older driver, why not think about how we could develop new technology to help people remain mobile safe and seamless for as long as possible. 70% of the US population over age 50 live in suburban and rural areas. As a result, transit or waiting for that van is just not going to happen either because it serves poorly or it doesn’t exist. So we developed a program and still have a great deal of work in understanding this new technology and also what is the future of the autonomous car going to be for older adults.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         But soon it became quite evident that that wasn’t enough because life is not about just driving or frankly just living in your home. It is about the seamless integration of activities and engagement, not just around health, but all the things that bring a smile to your face. And so we slowly started to develop the lab to be not just around transportation, but now a program on imagine this, home not as place, but home as service where the internet of things and on demand services come to your home by subscription even before you need the service, whether it may be health, but also maybe delivering your Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or something like that.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         I’m looking at caregiving. The number one care giver, if you will, to an older adult is typically the oldest adult daughter or a spouse. We know painfully little about where care is actually provided. As you know, it’s not just hospitals and clinics, it’s in the home. So we’re trying to understand what is the dynamic of how care and nutrition and things like that are provided. An area that I’m really working hard on these days is on longevity planning. I want to transform the retirement industry to be more than a simply about wealth management.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Think about this. No business, no institution owns what you’re going to be doing in longevity. There is no one anticipating the new old age. And given that we’re living much longer than ever before, we have people hacking longevity rather than planning for longevity. So now the lab is about one third every flavor of psychology you could imagine, one third engineering and data science and one third soup and nuts, social workers, anthropology and the like.

Senator Bill Fr…:           So take me on a tour. I’m coming up to Boston in, say two weeks and I knock on the door. What happens?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         So the first thing you do, you’ll come upstairs and as soon as you open the door, you’re going to see a cherry red Volkswagen sitting in a virtual reality room. Essentially, it’s a $5 million video game and we call her Miss Daisy, as in driving Miss Daisy digitally. And what we try to understand is across the lifespan, are there different medications, different technologies in the car, a cell phone distraction? How do people respond to those different things, not just how they drive in infinite virtual space and use the car, but we’re also using something you’d find interesting.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Physiological measurements. I’m getting skin conductance off the wheel to find out how stressed you are. Pulse rate variation and eye tracking and understand how long are you looking at infinite space versus how long you’re looking at finite space on a given device or the dashboard. And the reason why we have a simulator is we do things there that we don’t dare do on the road, but on the road I have five instrumented vehicles with much more instrumentation to understand how are people going to transition from the car they drive today to eventually the car they’re going to have to choose to let go and trust that vehicle to drive.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         If you go down the hall, you’ll meet my team that is recruiting subjects. We are doing experiments. In a couple of years ago, we were doing experiments in three to four countries touching upwards of 25,000 people with surveys or wiring them up with GPS. At the risk of being creepy, we’d like to watch. So we get into people’s homes, we watch them shop, we watch how they use medication and the like, going further down the hall, the engineering and data science team, these are the number crunchers. You won’t see them if you come during the day because these are the guys that are out at night with the lights on late.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         One room that we are doing now that a team has put together, I’m excited about. Imagine this. Do you know the workplaces of roughly a five generation workplace? So the silent generation still makes up 3% of the workplace and the average small business owner is well north of 57 years old. So we’re working on, can you imagine how all those generations look at work, look at authority, compensation, benefits and the like. So go further around the lab, you’ll go into what we call our living room, which is really, just a big hallway with a couch and whatnot. But this is where we talk about our work around financial planning, longevity planning, caregiving, and where we talk about what are the new things we can do.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         And then finally you come into the main AgeLab studio where my office is, but also Agnes. And Agnes is kind of a girl that gets around. The age gain now empathy system. It is a suit that you can put on and it gives you the feeling of the friction, the fatigue and indeed the frustration of what it feels like to be probably closer to 80 but as you know, numbers are bad correlations but osteoarthritis, type two diabetes…

Senator Bill Fr…:           That you put it on?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Exactly. It’s a suit you put on goggles. Neck rotation is limited. We change your gait and we’ve used that device to help redesign CVS stores. We’ve used it to rethink how you get in and out of the car for various brands around the world. Pills and bottles and the like. How do you open them and package to understand the complete journey that people have. And then you get to meet the team and we’ve got a few robots that might be wandering around about, but it’s a small lab [inaudible] for MIT, but we make up for it with a very big attitude.

Senator Bill Fr…:           In terms of the implementation that comes out of there or what your participants learn from that. You mentioned CVS actually changed.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Sure enough.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Are there a lot of applications that come out if you look over the last…

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Sure. I mean the lab is entirely financed only by industry and we do that for a variety of reasons. One, that’s part of the business model doing research. But secondly, we really want to move ideas out of the laboratory and into the living room. Right. So with CVS, yes, we helped inform the change of the store of the future, if you will. With the auto industry, we help them change how they arrange different devices on the dashboard or how the central controller that you often find in a dime or BMW product might be used. In the insurance industry, we help them understand that there are different riders that could be used for home maintenance on home care and home policies so that they could understand that they’re not just insuring a property, they’re actually ensuring somebody could stay in their home longer.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         My students very proud of, they certainly did this all on their own. I hope to say that we gave them a space to be creative. We have some that have started small businesses. Some of them turned into big business. Cedric Hutchings, one of our first grad students created Withings, the smart scales, smart watch that you can find in many high tech stores. Others are on the on demand economy where they’re creating opportunities for older adults to, shall we say, rent out a room to a college student with the caveat that that student takes out the trash, helps them bring in bags and maybe gives them a ride now and then.

Senator Bill Fr…:           When you’re studying age with science and with technology and with knowledge and with understanding and redefining it and destroying the myths, is there an application or an effect on policy? In this particular podcast we look at this intersection between policy with health and wellbeing, with innovation, creativity and obviously the innovation creativity are right in the heart. That’s exactly what the AgeLab is about. And in the health and wellbeing, clearly you’re doing that.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Sure.

Senator Bill Fr…:           In terms of allowing people to have both function, get around the mobility issues, intellectual issues and knowledge issues that are opened up. This third sphere in policy, do you find things coming out of the AgeLab or from your writings and in your many books and the longevity, the whole economy approach that are affecting policy and the way policy is ultimately written?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Absolutely. And my own background is in policy originally and it was the frustration that policy was always lagging technological advance while demography is destiny. It’s very interesting how policy makers and policy wonks always put the aging thing way out there because they’re, well, we’re getting older but it’s going to be way out there. I mean how many decades is we hear the baby boomers were coming, we’ve been coming for seven decades.

Senator Bill Fr…:           That’s right.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         And so the policy implications have been plenty. So I’ll take the one to say obvious one. All the technologies that we develop in many industries have developed from health to auto to whatever it might be, come out very expensive. So all of a sudden now there’s an issue of technological equity. Does government have a role, not just to ensure that these technologies are available, but are they accessible to ensure that the quality of life that they can provide, particularly if it’s medical, are available to as many people as possible?

Senator Bill Fr…:           Alright.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Along with that, another issue that government is going to have to be playing and that’s very hot right now. Privacy. I can monitor, manage and motivate you from the second you go to the toilet, to make toast, to open that refrigerator to get in your car. I will know everything more than you may want to know. Who owns that information? Where does it go?

Senator Bill Fr…:           [inaudible 00:18:13].

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Yeah. And frankly, I want you to think about this, sir. Do you know there’s no federal agency at all that is the trusted advisor and shall we say a gatekeeper to all the new technologies that are coming out for an aging society? Yes, we have FDA on those things that are clearly health-related, but we don’t have anything on smart speakers. We don’t have anything on sensors. We don’t have anything on the sensors go under the rug to detect that your gate has changed. We are now putting the consumer in an ever more complex role to have to make decisions on how they outfit their lives and their home in a world that’s getting more complex. Not sure if that’s totally government’s role, but government should be a player in there to level the playing field so that there’s some sort of a comprehensive understanding of what my choices might be.

Senator Bill Fr…:           When we talked a little earlier, we’ll come back to the lab because it’s fascinating. It really captures again, the real thrust of what we’re trying to share with people broadly. In these changes that are coming along in our understanding of what aging is all about, have medical institutions kept up with that? Or these changes bypass, surpass? Typically, healthcare is very slow to move and the bricks and mortar world is still dominates where most of the industry it’s sort of passed us by, but our institutions adapting to these changes and understanding about aging.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         I would have to give an answer that I would say is somewhat mixed. Are there some brands and institutions that are doing more than others? Yes. I don’t want to sound like I’m being pessimistic. I think I’m being more realistic. I would argue the answer is no. That we still have the vast majority, even in the highly accredited universities of doctors and nurses and people wear white coats being trained. That frankly, if I can’t touch you and I can’t see you, I’m not delivering care. And even on telemedicine has been around since the 1950s.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         We have payment structures and systems that are reluctant to invest in keeping you well rather than just giving you something, well, you’ve already fallen once. Now I’ll pay for it. Well, I could’ve given you a sensor that predicted that I was dehydrated and shuffling my feet and I was likely to fall. So I think that we’re short on standards, we’re short on process, but we also have a workforce that many cases has not even been trained on the vast number of technologies that are out there, so when they get trained on it, it’s continuing medical education or something that is… Well, we’ll see. It’s a little foreign. That’s not the way I deliver medicine.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Let’s turn to the book, The Longevity Economy, unlocking the world’s fastest growing, most misunderstood market. And you can tell why I’ve waited a little bit-

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Yeah it’s a long tittle.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Because the title captures it all, but I really wanted to hear it directly from you. Joseph Coughlin, founder and director of the MIT AgeLab. In The Longevity Economy, you’ll see I have a bunch of chapters and let me just throw out some words that you’ve used in there. Old age is ridiculously unequal. What did you mean?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         The way that it’s applied, it is ridiculously unequal because frankly it shows the great diversity in old age. Some people are living with verve and able to do great things. Others are left on their porch hoping that somebody comes to visit or somebody, it happens. And so unlike youth where generally you can predict it, boy, I started about age 50 or so, we start to have great divergence in that experience

Senator Bill Fr…:           And it comes back to it later in the book. You talk about the role of business, of listening, what the needs and demands are, but you can’t just say, “Well, older people, we go to them.” It really is coming to these other categories.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         There’s an opportunity here not just to listen to the needs and respond, but to excite and delight. No one looks at the older consumers an opportunity to excite and delight. They look at us as people and go, “Well, what do you need?”

Senator Bill Fr…:           Yeah. You used the words changing the fundamental rules of age.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Yeah. If you think about what policy does and what business reinforces and the stories we tell each other, there are rules. Think about the rules. You go to school, you work, do variety of family and other community activities perhaps in between, but then as a law of physics, you are going to retire. If you’re in Germany, it’s going to be 60 no matter who you are. If it’s here 65, 67 years old and then you’re supposed to just go quietly and there are no more rituals for you except for maybe paying for someone’s wedding or going to someone else’s retirement party or heaven forbid someone’s funeral, but there’s no more.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         We have not written a story for nearly one third of adult life. If you give me a second, just a little bit bit of mathematics here. It’s an MIT thing but more arithmetic, but you would imagine this from zero to 21 years old. I don’t know if it’s easier for some of the listeners, drinking age, zero to 21 years old is about 8,000 days. From 21, what we might call midlife crisis, 46, 47 this years old is about 8,000 days. I bet you’re getting the algorithm now. From about then to 65 is 8,000 days. But as you know, if you make it to 65 you’ve got a better than 50% chance of making it here over age 85 and guess what said another 8,000 days.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Yeah, that’s great.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         In all of those other segments you had peers, friends, parents, schools-

Senator Bill Fr…:           Tradition, celebrations-

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Telling you what to do, rituals, celebrations. You get to 65 there is no story. There’s no what to do when you’re expecting it’s 65. This is an amazing new, endless frontier to invent an entirely new life stage and it’s an opportunity for business. It’s opportunity for government, and opportunity for society and individuals.

Senator Bill Fr…:           So chapter in your book, and again we were discussed it in the past. I find it fascinating and that is the future is female.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Yeah. My wife likes to say it was good to me to acknowledge 51% of the population.

Senator Bill Fr…:           That’s right.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         So, I mean it pains me as a Red Sox fan to quote a Yankee, but I will, as Yogi Berra said, you can see a lot by looking and if you look you’ll find that women, but particularly women between 47 and 57 years old are not just the primary caregiver of medications and care around health and whatnot. They’re the ones who find how to get the oven fixed. They’re the ones who get the call when there’s a hard emotional issue. They’re the ones that geriatric offices are getting larger for now because the patients coming in with the adult daughter sometimes even with the grandchild in tow, so she’s living longer.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         She’s the primary caregiver. She now has more education in all fields, but engineering is likely to eclipse that in the next five to six years. Since 1978 and 1988 she exceeded in grad school, income is coming up dramatically. Business needs to understand and government needs to understand. She is the chief consumer officer of the house and yet even women with great wealth and great education still feel that the institutions we have around us treat them poorly to the point where they don’t even want to buy those products.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Just a quick one, think about this, 60% of the cars out there are bought directly by a woman or directly influenced, unless it’s a luxury car, then it goes up to 80% home improvement, 80% but to your listeners interests 90 cents on the dollar of every healthcare decision from the doctor, I’d choose to, the shaving cream I buy is chosen by a woman. Proctor & Gamble, J & J. Generally speaking, those companies don’t even do focus groups with men anymore unless it has to do with razorblades and even then we’re not very good at choosing those.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Yeah. Your last chapter is the meaning of legacy in The Longevity Economy and you end with that. And what do you mean by that?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         The baby boomers, and frankly this is with every other generation to follow, have had so much done for them. Maybe somewhat are you to them as well. But this new expectation that old age can be better is really setting the agenda both in policy circles and in the market and in society. The legacy we have a chance of writing is a new social contract and the new social contract says that as we age, we can’t and should be productive. We can and should be engaged, that we can and should look forward to this new old age. And if we set that new structure with new rituals, new myths, new policies, technologies that enable people that genuinely work for a living, that is people will use their bodies to either stay on the line longer or to go to another job or to continue an education. Our legacy could be to invent that last third of adult life that for now lays fallow and costly.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Well, you’re doing it, but it’s undefined. I mean it’s out there. It is a blank slate to be written.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Del Webb among others was the first to realize that he had a lot of people that were older with time on their hands in relatively good shape, but with pensions and defined benefit, they had money. He invented the notion that retirement was a time for golf, tennis, beach, walking and luxury. It was an idea like old age. What’s the new idea to make longevity, something to desire and to build.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Young people today are listening to us, so many of whom are entrepreneurs, many of whom are looking to the future. They want to solve the problems that are seemingly insurmountable. They want to be mission directed. What advice would you give them and then obviously in the healthcare world.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Sure.

Senator Bill Fr…:           It is what most of our listeners are, but what advice would you give to young people, young leaders?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         I think they should definitely continue to aim high. There’s a certain noblesse elite, but I believe that if you can, you must. But the other thing I would suggest to them is that pace themselves. We should start thinking about a 100 year life where we should no longer be asking, what are you going to do with your life? Or what are you going to do when you grow up? It should be things like, what is the purpose of your life and how many things will you be when you grow up? That nearly 100 years means that there’s going to be life where school’s never out. There are many professions, but also many battles to be fought. Life’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint.

Senator Bill Fr…:           And lots of opportunities and again, just listing and having read your book. It’s really exciting because it is almost a pioneering spirit that you can take into it and open up where we really just don’t know and we don’t know what the opportunity is, whether it’s from a career standpoint or a knowledge standpoint or fulfillment standpoint from a spiritual standpoint, because in the past the culture is very much been, well, that’s the time to sort of slow down.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         To relax.

Senator Bill Fr…:           And then mostly it’s just the opposite.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         And I love the fact that you picked up on the pioneering, especially since we’re here in Tennessee because really older adults today are hacking longevity. They genuinely are the pioneers because we’ve never had this many people living this long with this great of opportunity and expectations. So we’re making it up as we go along. Let’s see if we can get it right. And that’s our legacy.

Senator Bill Fr…:           To be optimistic, again you’re in the middle of a lot of activity and a lot of innovation and a lot of exploration. As you look ahead optimistically say three or four or five years from now, what’s going right? What’s going well in terms of the trend? Is the waves behind us pushing us along?

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         I think some make white of this and I think you probably appreciate this more than most having served in Washington. The fact that we’re even talking about it, that it’s on the agenda is a great side of progress. Aging was always pushed off to the side as an issue. Well, we need to take care of those people. We’re not actually putting it on the agenda. Say, how can we make it better? So that by itself is positive. The second thing is there’s this wonderful convergence happening now of disruptive demographics with disruptive technology coming together to make it possible that not just the possibility of taking care of people, but making people’s lives better.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         And for those who are policymakers, if they’re honest with themselves, like business people, no policymaker either got elected or got reappointed by picking up problems they can’t solve. There are now tools out there that are emerging, whether it’s the internet of things or robotics. And AI has become the new answer to nearly everything that is going to make it possible to pick up some of these issues and to move forward. And I guess the third thing is attitude. You mentioned optimism.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         I do believe that the new generation of older adults are optimistic and optimism takes courage. So between those three things, I think the next three to five years to steal from Vannevar Bush who was FDR science advisor and Dean of engineering at MIT, he said science was the endless frontier. I think that healthcare, health policy and health business should now see quality of life as the new endless frontier and aging is key to that.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Fundamental. My father, my dad passed away 20 years ago or so, but I’m the last five children. When I was a little boy, he was a doctor, family practice internist here in town, and again, this was 60 years ago, but I remember him coming home one evening and always go back to take care of patients with house calls. After that and saying that he just got nominated to be on President Eisenhower’s very first commission on aging, and I think it was called Committee on Aging, and that now is what, 60 years ago. But he was throughout his whole life, he had focused his practices on what ultimately became a specialty but focused on the aging process. So this was really thrilling to me to be able to sit here with the world expert in terms of studying in this issue.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         I’m glad to be here with you.

Senator Bill Fr…:           So let me just read the last sentence in the book. Again, The Longevity Economy, unlocking the world’s fastest growing, most misunderstood market from Joseph Coughlin, who’s with us today by two sentences in building it tomorrow where older adults can chase their dreams, have fun, contribute, achieve meaning, and yes, leave a bit of themselves behind. You won’t only be helping them leave a legacy. The legacy you create may well be your own. Joe, thank you for being with us.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Thank sir.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Appreciate it.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Thank you.

Senator Bill Fr…:           Thank you.

Dr. Joe Coughli…:         Cheers.

Senator Bill Fr…:           This episode of A Second Opinion was produced by Todd Schlosser, the Motus Creative Group and snapshot interactive. You can subscribe to A Second Opinion on Apple podcast or wherever you’re listening right now and be sure to rate and review A Second Opinion so we can continue to bring you great content. You can get more information about the show and our guests and sponsors at ASecondOpinionPodcast.com. The Second Opinion broadcast from Nashville, Tennessee, the nation’s Silicon Valley of health services, where we engage at the intersection of policy, medicine, and innovation.