Social sector is driving opportunities around aging

Posted on October 21, 2010 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

We are at the Grantmakers in Aging conference in Chicago for the annual meeting and had an opportunity to attend a session yesterday. We met with several leaders in the foundation and grant making space.

Naturally, all the discussions involved the topic of 'aging', however, we noticed the details of the discussions included transportation, housing, entertainment, fitness, and every other aspect of living.

In other words, while the word 'aging' conjures thoughts of being old, the reality is aging is a product of living (it beats the alternative) and is the one common denominator each human being shares.

Grant makers have approached aging from a "where can we help" and "what can we do" to help those who are older and typically have limited financial means.  This said, a number of foundations are using their resources to  make significant and necessary changes to how housing, healthcare, transportation, etc is approached and provided.

These foundations are entrepreneurial in that they are trying to do something which hasn't been done before. Foundations and other grant makers seem to be driving the discussion about aging, and they are creating significant opportunities for private industry.

It will be interesting to observe when and how the business community will capitalize on all the products and services that will be desired as a result of our aging population.  Sure, some are doing it now, but this is limited.  Having a "private business background," I was surprised that the opportunities surrounding "aging" are being driven by the nonprofit/ foundation sector.

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