AgeLab Paper on Sharing Economy and Older Adults Wins GSA Prize

by Adam Felts

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has recognized an AgeLab publication in with the David A. Peterson award, which annually honors one paper published in Gerontology & Geriatrics Education that shows excellence in scholarship in academic gerontology and geriatrics.

AgeLab Research Scientists Julie B. Miller (the paper’s lead author), Chaiwoo Lee, and Lisa D’Ambrosio, former AgeLab researcher Carley Ward, and AgeLab Director Joseph F. Coughlin are recipients of the award.

The winning paper, titled “Sharing is Caring: The Potential of the Sharing Economy to Support Aging in Place,” was first published in 2018. The study explored attitudes toward sharing economy services—such as Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Taskrabbit, and Honor—among members of the AgeLab’s Lifestyle Leaders Panel, a research panel of adults ages 85 and older. The Lifestyle Leaders Panel is currently accepting participants from within the United States.

In their responses to survey questions and their comments in in-person group discussions, the panelists expressed interest in using sharing economy services while also identifying significant barriers that they perceived for their adoption and utilization, including concerns about losing independence due to reliance on sharing economy services, financial and physical threats, and struggles with using devices like smartphones.

While the study suggests that sharing economy services have the potential to support aging in place, to expand their adoption and use will require reconstructing how older adults, family caregivers, and professionals and experts in gerontology conceptualize and deliver care to an aging population. Broadly speaking, the paper’s authors suggest discussions in various settings and with different parties—sharing economy businesses, gerontology students, technology start-ups, and older adults and users themselves—about how new technologies can be designed and utilized to benefit older users in particular.

View the announcement of GSA’s 2021 awards here.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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