Michael Milken holding a microphone
Milken Institute Chairman Michael Milken (Photo by Jared Siskin / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Aging is a growth market. With the planet inching toward a population of older adults at 2 billion, $43 trillion in economic activity is going to be generated by people aged more than 50 years old around the world by 2050, according to AARP.

The technology industry has the opportunity to capitalize on that potential by enhancing healthy aging, according to Michael Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute. He led a discussion last week during an AARP AgeTech Collaborative session at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Milken talked about the expanding role of technology in combating disease and helping people live longer, healthier lives.

AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, who hosted Milken, said that when asked, most people indicate a desire to live to 100 if they are in good health. The greatest fears of aging adults, she added, are brain health and the potential loss of cognitive ability.

Milken said that society has made major advances in not only extending life, but in improving the quality of life, and much of that work was driven by the use of technology in sequencing the human genome. Technology, he added, has improved the cost, speed, storage and access to data that have made advances in public health possible.

“Technology has brought us longer, healthier lives — and we’re just at the beginning,” he said. 

Jenkins said that longer, healthier lives mean that people aren’t retiring at age 62 but are remaining in the workplace. Older adults who are active and engaged in meaningful work live eight years longer, on average, than their counterparts, she added.

The COVID-19 pandemic, Jenkins said, has led to the presence of multiple generations in the workplace being more common due to employee shortages, particularly in the areas of healthcare and technology. Along with allowing workers to remain productive at home, telework and telemedicine also engaged older populations to stay healthy and active.

Milken said that 80 is the new 60, and 60 is the new 40. He encouraged technology companies and entrepreneurs to harness the needs and desires of older generations to help them remain productive. 

“The tech industry can enhance healthy aging by helping people change their behavior with diagnostics, devices and data,” Milken said.