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Is RoboCop Our Future?

by Louis on June 9, 2011

Or is the future already here?

Part person. Part machine. Do bionic knees, hips, heart valves, and laser vision corrections make us all RoboCop?

We can expect a plethora of techno bits to replace worn parts in the next few years. Where or when do we become RoboCop? Is it a line? Who draws the line? Is it individual decision? What does it mean if you decide not to ski or give up running rather than have the new hip?  When is the quality of life effected? When is that effect too much?

I have been listening to the videos from last year’s New Aging conference. Great stuff. I encourage you to watch. The quality of our aging lives is improved by techno-medical interventions. From what I heard much more substantial bio-medical interventions are just down the pike.

Don’t worry. I am not going to discuss the ethics or demographics. I want to consider the relationship of techno marvels like new knees to an earlier generation fix for the same condition – canes, walkers and wheelchairs. How much different are these from new hips? Is there a continuum? Are home modifications part of it? They all have the same purpose – to reduce, manipulate or eliminate the effects of normal aging. AND how is the marketing of these products a lesson for home modifications and other preparation for the Aging in Place lifestyle?

The new paradigm of disability says it is a “function of the interface between the person and their environment.” If the inability to get in your home is a disability, a no step entry eliminates the problem. Are you then not disabled? If you can’t see the movie screen a pair of glasses helps. Do we see people who wear glasses as having a disability? How about if they are lost or broken? If walking is painful a cane may help but so does a new hip. Do both remove the disability?

The continuum of fixes is a moving target because individuals and conditions are so varied. The threshold of disability is generally associated with inconvenience or inability to get by on a day to day basis. Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Like, it is too difficult or time consuming to get to work from home so you have a disability. So…is traffic a disabling condition?  How much is tele-commuting like a replacement hip? The hip replacement and tele-commuting can have the same net effect- the ability to get to work with less pain and inconvenience.

Evidence: There is clear change going on.

1. My recent post including Eric Cohen’s analogy of the hearing aid stigma vs blue tooth earpiece status is one piece.

2. The Smith and Nephew: Innovation in Motion ad campaign for replacement hips and knees.   This is an edgy pitch to a ‘generation of doers’ as sharp as any Nike or Mazda Zoom Zoom campaign. A fancy pitch for life enhancing hardware!

Smith and Nephew: Innovation in Motion

3. Just this morning I heard about a joint replacement seminar at one of the local hospital centers. Joint replacement is no longer the stuff of individual medical consult. It is group seminars like financial planning or career change.

Can we market home modifications like that? If home mods are really just another path to the same continuing capability, Can we advertise the same message?

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