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Iowans Challenge Aging with Ingenuity

Market Innovation director for AARP Jeffrey Makowka says it's important that older adults are able to live life on their own terms. (AARP)
Market Innovation director for AARP Jeffrey Makowka says it's important that older adults are able to live life on their own terms. (AARP)
March 16, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – Growing older does not hold the same connotations as it once did, and some Iowans are using their ingenuity to challenge perceptions of aging.

On Thursday, finalists in the Disrupt Aging Innovation Concept Challenge will present their ideas for a product or service that can positively impact the lives of those age 50 and older.

Jeffrey Makowka, market innovation director for AARP, says it's important that older adults are able to live life on their own terms.

"As the demographics within the United States move toward larger populations of people being older, there will be some certain circumstances and needs that have to be met and other opportunities for people to optimize their happiness and their healthiness,” he points out. “Innovation is a great way for those gaps to be closed and for people to live better lives."

Much like contestants in the popular television show "Shark Tank," finalists will present a 10-minute pitch to judges and an audience Thursday at the Edgewater senior living center in West Des Moines.

Some of the ideas include a monitor to ensure a stove is not left running unattended and a platform to fight depression through tablets that display art.

Makowka says AARP is working around the country with entrepreneurs and students to increase innovation that will eliminate generational barriers, increase social integration and improve the livability of the community for aging adults. He says some of the best ideas are born close to home.

"We tend to focus on the coasts, thinking that innovation happens in New York or Boston or San Francisco,” he states. “But for innovation to really be impactful you have to be close, know and be empathetic with your users, and that has to happen at the local level. We're very excited to see this pop up in Iowa."

The Disrupt Aging Innovation Concept Challenge is the combined effort of AARP, Des Moines Area Community College, Edgewater senior living and Aging Resources of Central Iowa.

Contestants are competing for cash and educational prizes.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA