Joseph Coughlin, director of MIT’s AgeLab and a recognized authority on technology and aging, has been appointed by President George W. Bush to the advisory committee for the White House Conference on Aging, an influential, once-a-decade meeting that in the past has led to, among other things, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid.
During the course of his year-long appointment, Coughlin is helping to plan the conference and writing a white paper about the policy implications of the aging of the baby-boom generation. After the December conference, he will work with committee members to suggest ways to implement the conference findings.
Coughlin says his advisory role, which should require about one day a month of his time, “dovetails seamlessly” with the AgeLab’s work: improving transportation for the elderly and learning how to make and market the technologies people will need as they age so that they adopt them now. For example, the lab is working to change the car so that people can drive longer, safely and confidently, and will market these safety improvements to people of all ages.
“Aging is a call to innovate in optimism,” Coughlin says. He hopes to use the conference to get transportation on the national aging agenda and to draw attention to the need for people to plan ahead. – By Kevin Bullis, SM ‘05