IBM and HealthXL are supporting a health hackathon to explore options for tackling the challenges of an ageing population. It is an important initiative, but the recurrent focus on the problems of ageing could be a huge mistake and a wrong starting point.
The Health Hackaton is an important and interesting initiative., which I hope and believe will generate important knowledge. But again, the combination of health issues, older persons and technology continues to re-produce certain wrong and harmful stereotypes.
I do hope the conference will prove me wrong, but it is difficult to imagine that any older person would like to attend the event. In this respect, the brief could not be clearer: “We’ve designed the brief in a HUMAN-CENTERED way, so you can understand the elder people better”.
The simple idea that older persons are not part of the group is in stark contrast to the good practices recommended both by the Australian Government and the World Health Organization.
However, the event outcome might also struggle with its premises, which are: The three most urgent problems of Australia’s ageing population. They are all important issues, and definitely deserve a hackathon. However, those are not the main challenges posed by ageing.
Australia has already taken further steps towards a better understanding of ageing. Initiative like the Hacking Age are very welcome and clearly very important, but the wrong conceptualization of such an event might lead us to pernicious outcomes in terms of tackling the challenges of an ageing population.