Edited by Robert DeFillippi, Alison Rieple and Patrik Wikström
The ageing population is a pervasive phenomenon affecting societies on a global scale. People can now expect to live longer than ever before, with physical and mental capabilities remaining high into old age (Clarkson et al., 2003). In most developed countries average life expectancy is rising at an almost linear fashion, with no sign of deceleration (Christensen et al., 2009). By 2050 there will be more people globally over the age of 60 than there will be under the age of 15 (Blythe et al., 2005). In addition to major economic implications (Clarkson et al., 2003), these changes present an increasingly discerning customer base, and major changes to regulations (King et al., 2012; Swan, 2010; Weerawardena and Mort, 2001). A popular strategy, and the global direction of most governments to cope with the economic implications of an ageing population is to raise the typical retirement age (Christensen et al., 2009). However, this fails to address the fact that most elderly people aspire to actively participate in mainstream society, and reject the dependency and institutionalization typical of services in the last century (Clarkson et al., 2003). Most elderly individuals are healthy and possess a rich collection of skills, knowledge and expertise, they desire to be active and engaged, and assisting them in reaching this goal will have enormous economic benefits (Clare et al., 2010). The sheer number and proportion of elderly people, along with their collective spending power, provide an unprecedented business case for driving innovation in aged care (Clarkson et al., 2003).