Wednesday February 7th, 2018 07:43

In the News February 2018 – Connecting the Dots in Brussels


Well 2018 is off to a flying start in our work as the Agile Ageing Alliance. Last week we joined forces with Innovate UK and Enterprise Europe Network to bring together a fantastic group of like-minded cross-sector stakeholders with a view to rethinking the very notion of work life and retirement.

The event took place in Brussels, with around 80 multi-disciplinary participants battling it out to win a share of 25 million Euros which the European Commission has allocated to explore new concepts designed to help older adults stay in work for longer.

Watch this space for a roundup of the event. For now, let’s take few moments to look through some of the best stories from around the globe which address work and meaning of life in an ageing society. Enjoy.

Stay Flexible

We kick-off with this great piece from the News Observer about the need for a strategic response to the US’ ageing workforce. It focuses on the work of a new commission between think tank New America and Bloomberg Philanthropies called “Shift: The Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology.”

After working with leaders from business, academia, policy and technology, and canvassing opinion from workers, the commission found that our ability to respond to the inevitable changes in the economy relies “on strong public and private leadership and intentional planning and action at the community level”. What’s more, there is a “need to invest in education and retraining to help society find new pathways to stable work or realize the entrepreneurial benefits of risks taken”.

With more of us predicted to work freelance in the ‘gig economy’, the report argues for a more flexible system where our benefits travel with us, that helps us find work more easily, and has community networks to promote our skills and leverage relationships. To make all this happen however, local and state leadership is required.

Developing local solutions to a global issue – imagined in workshops like ours in Brussels – is a positive step toward realising this challenge. So again, we look forward to sharing our findings and beginning to build a more flexible working environment for us all.

The benefits are not just economic, however. According to this next article from NBC News, having a purpose in life can help you live longer.

The Power of Purpose

AAA Founder Ian Spero wrote an interesting article about the value of meaning in liferecently. A new study from Washington University, reiterates this revealing that; “People with a greater sense of purpose tend to engage in healthier lifestyle behaviors, ranging from eating their veggies, to getting more exercise and even flossing their teeth (a good proxy for other healthy behaviors)”.

This purpose can be any number of things, but according to research lead Patrick Hill; “It is the notion that you have daily activities you find meaningful or engaging and that give you direction for your life, reasons to continue going”.

Work, of course, won’t be everyone’s motivating factor for jumping out of bed every day. But having that option taken away through businesses failing to adapt to changing workforces, opportunities missed through retraining, or not making products or services for older adults beyond Saga holidays should not be allowed to continue.

It is for this reason we believe more people should be empowered to work for longer if they so choose. With a continued sense of purpose, you make better decisions such as the food you eat or exercising more. As the article says; “people who have a sense of purpose… bounce back from setbacks faster and are motivated to get back to doing the things that give their lives meaning”.

You’re Worth It

Another way we might make ageing easier on ourselves is to simply view it through a more positive prism. This fascinating article from Psychology Today caught our eye as it suggests that preconceived notions we may have about ageing from our youth, can impose negative stereotypes that surface later on in life.

Apparently, these notions begin when we hear people talking negatively about older people or being dismissive of their role in society. As you then age yourself, these stereotypes return and manifest themselves in how you view and treat yourself.

According to the article; “Feelings of worthlessness, irrelevance or being a burden may also appear, right on schedule, to align with the ideas in your subconscious time capsule”.

The solution (and this is something we most certainly endorse), is to ‘flout’ these notions like American painter Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses, who the article continues, “is said to have produced some 1,500 paintings in the three decades before her death at age 101”.

Open your mind and you can subvert the mental and physical impact of entering a new phase of life. If you do, concludes the article; “Your brain, and possibly your body, will thank you”.

And finally…

Let’s be grateful for the likes of icons like Sir David Attenborough who exemplifies the idea of making the most of our lives. Interviewed by The Telegraph about his continued popularity and inspiring creative output, he (now aged 91) promised to continue working until his body no longer supports it. Let’s hope that’s for many more years to come as he may be an essential role model according to this popular article from Reuters.

The article suggests that; “Children and teens who spend a lot of time with their grandparents may be less likely than peers who don’t to have negative and stereotypical ideas about the elderly”. It may seem obvious, but if anything is revealed from this (and indeed our own) research, it’s that sometimes we need reminding youth is not the be all and end all.

And so, fittingly we round our digest off with this story by Adrienne Ione writing for the Seattle Times saying “Don’t patronize older adults by calling them ‘the elderly’”. Adrienne writes; “Careless use of the term “the elderly” can become a knife that cuts lines of love between people. The late, great artist and singer Nina Simone cautioned, “You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served”.

That’s it for this month. If you have missed our events you can tune into The Wireless from Age UK at 6pm on Wednesday 7th February and hear Ian Spero being interviewed on ‘Agenda with Martyn Lewis’. If you are attending the Ageing FIT event in Nice, you can catch Ian moderating the finance session and participating in the plenary debate during the morning of 6th February. Be sure to keep an eye out for all the gossip from Nice and our recent Brussels extravaganza, and if you haven’t already, follow us on twitter where we share all the best stories on ageing.

Until next month, #BeAgile, and be sure to keep up with the best stories in the world of Creative Skills for Life on twitter.

Image used with permission. Copyright: Bloodua.


Sections: CSL In The News

Wednesday February 7th, 2018 07:31

In the News January 2018 – More Life in Your Years


2017 ended on a sad note with the passing of a great friend to CSL and genuine legend – Professor Heinz Wolff. We could dedicate this whole article to Professor Wolff’s achievements, but let us simply say that he inspired us all to think different and reminded us not to be dazzled by technology and lose sight of the human factor. Doing so with a wonderful sense of mischief.

The Guardian’s obituary touches on the many positions he held throughout his lifetime, but if you have a few moments then why not watch this video from 2015 of him wowing a young audience on the properties of liquid nitrogen.

Join the ‘A Team’

Continuing this spirit of thinking different, we recently announced an experimental creative workshop we are staging in our work as the Agile Ageing Alliance, in partnership with Innovate UK and Enterprise Europe Network in Brussels on January 25th. The event unites trans-disciplinary researchers, thinking about disruptive digital solutions that can support older individuals in being and staying actively involved in professional life for longer.

You can learn more about the event here, and if you are interested in joining this ‘A Team’, please contact and tell us how you would like to contribute.

This is a unique opportunity to help rethink the very notion of work life and retirement, but if you need further incentive then you might like to know the European Commission is offering between 3 and 4 million Euros to fund collaborative proposals which would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately.

Before you consider your application however, take a moment to enjoy the most popular stories we shared this month, featuring inspiring people and organisations challenging the status quo.

More Life in Your Years

We kick off with this article from the NY Times introducing more indomitable figures like Professor Wolff. Professionals who aren’t letting age diminish their desire to work – some well into their 90s. We meet people like senior Federal District Court judge in New York Jack B. Weinstein, who at 96, still rises at 5.30 am to begin a full day’s work. In his own words; “Retire? I’ve never thought of retiring”.

According to the article; “Judge Weinstein was first appointed to the bench more than 50 years ago and is still in the thick of hot-button issues in the courts. Weinstein continued; “I’m a better judge, in some respects, than when I was younger. I don’t remember names. But I listen more. And I’m more compassionate. I see things from more angles. If you are doing interesting work, you want to continue”.

This is a message everyone should hear. Find something you believe in and it will keep you young, no matter your age. You’ll need to stay healthy though, a matter Greg Fell, Director of Public Health in Sheffield addressed in this excellent blog for NHSE.

A Healthy Approach to Life

In the media, there are many doom-laden terms used when describing ageing, one being the ‘ageing tsunami’ heading our way. Ian Spero wrote about this very subject in his blog “The Elderly” = Doom, Gloom and Alarm. It’s Time to Press Reset.

Agreeing this misguided view of ageing causes harm, Greg states that in fact “…the problem is not that we are living longer but that we are not getting healthier”. The answer, Greg believes, is what he calls a life course strategy; “…an active population-level response to supporting people to be as healthy as possible at all life stages”.

To achieve this however, Greg says there are many challenges we must first overcome. Hurdles such as ageism in political and financial thinking, over reliance on medicine, the size and perceived importance of the challenge and the current lack of a positive public-facing narrative.

AAA’s work, and indeed very existence is based on the belief these issues can be tackled. Because, as Greg says; “Ageing is inevitable but also malleable”. So, as we look around for signs of how our society views ageing, how else might we gauge our direction of travel? Perhaps by following the money. These two popular articles revealed quite different realities.

Money Talks

The first, is from Inside Philanthropy – “It’s a Coming Tsunami. Which Funders Are Confronting an Aging America?” Yet again we see the very cliché just mentioned, but the article does offer hope by introducing us to some of the US foundations using their wealth to improve the lives of older people in America.

The challenge they face however, according to John Feather CEO of Grantmakers in Aging, is that “Americans don’t like to think of themselves as aging”, which according to the article “applies to trustees that direct funding, many of whom are older, too”.

Part of Grantmakers’ solution is to help foundations see how they can include older adults in the fields they work in already, rather than needing to convince them to start again with a new funding stream. Said John; “If you work in housing, or if you work in health, or you work in transportation, you inevitably work with older people… Taking the needs of older people into account makes a community better for everyone”.

With only 2% of all philanthropic giving in the US going to older people, it’s interesting to consider what could encourage more of this money being spent on older adults. What if they were going to be around for many, many more years to come?

According to this article from Bitsonline; “Anti-aging research body the SENS Foundation has received a donation of $1 million USD in BTC thanks to the Pineapple Fund, a philanthropic organization that gives out donations in bitcoin. The SENS Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the medical concept of ‘negligible senescence’. In layman’s terms, this means the pursuit of a complete and total cure for aging”.

SENS Foundation is just one of several research bodies now looking to help (let’s be honest, some) people live ‘forever’. But do we really need a ‘cure’ for ageing? Can’t we instead invest that money in ways to make living a long and fulfilled life more achievable for the many? To put life in our years rather than years in our life. And shouldn’t we hold up people like Professor Wolff and Judge Weinstein as fantastic examples of how passion and curiosity about the world around us plays its part?

We believe so. So, as we continue our work, and share the best stories on twitter about helping more people be actively involved in life for longer, all that’s left to say is have a fantastic 2018.

Image used with permission. Copyright Alex Harvey.


Sections: CSL In The News

Sunday December 3rd, 2017 12:49

In the News December 2017 – Join the Agile Ageing ‘A Team’


This month’s review covers a wide spectrum of interesting age-related titbits, from the government’s Industrial Strategy, to AI and Elon Musk’s mom. Read on…

Grand Challenges

‘Ageing Society’ has been selected as one of four new Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges which will receive a share of £725 million to harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society.

According to the government policy paper; “Ageing populations will create new demands for technologies, products and services, including new care technologies, new housing models and innovative savings products for retirement. We have an obligation to help our older citizens lead independent, fulfilled lives, continuing to contribute to society. If we succeed, we will create an economy which works for everyone, regardless of age”.

There is also a significant pot of European funding to tap into. On December 5th, the Agile Ageing Alliance and Knowledge Transfer Network are organising a creative workshop where we aim to select a group of multi-disciplinary stakeholders who will work together to explore concepts that address a new Horizon 2020 Challenge: “Adaptive smart working and living environments supporting active and healthy ageing”.

Our objective is to help construct the UK component of an ‘A Team’, capable of winning a healthy 3 to 4 million Euro grant.

We are also planning a follow up in Brussels during January where we will bring together European stakeholders to complete the team. Contact if you are interested in participating.

Ecology of Ageing

Written by its Chair, Paul Burstow, our first article introduces Transform Ageing – a programme aimed at ‘breaking down some of the barriers that obstruct innovation and solutions’.

The programme is a collaboration between the Design Council, UnLtd, the South West Academic Health Science Network and the Centre for Ageing Better – using a £3.65m grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Led by older adults through Design Council facilitated sessions, it unites “older people, community groups, commissioners and social entrepreneurs to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing us as we age”.

According to Paul; “The way we respond to the human needs of an ageing society needs a new approach. We need to look beyond the medical to understand the ecology of ageing, of the psychosocial, economic and environmental”.

To this end, Pauls continues; “UnLtd has issued the first of four call outs offering awards between £5,000 and £15,000. The aim is to start developing a pipeline of social entrepreneurs who can respond to the design briefs and the wealth of learning from the workshops and community research”.

This is fantastic to see and an approach we wholly endorse. As AAA’s Ian Spero said in his latest blog about setting a roadmap toward creating the cognitive home; “The ageing population is a major socio-economic shift associated with both opportunities and challenges. Opportunities for social innovation to move away from outmoded conceptions of age that will lead to a richer set of possibilities later in life, and challenges most notably relating to an increased demand for health and social care”.

An Intelligent Approach

The fact that all the big tech players are now looking at the opportunities and challenges in our ageing society proves this is an issue few can ignore for much longer. In this article for example, we learnt how IBM are now using artificial intelligence to improve their ability to spot trends and changes in our behaviour to support ageing populations.

To do so, they have teamed up with University of California San Diego as part of their Cognitive Horizons Network, a research collective focused on the emerging fields of Internet of Things, AI and machine learning.

The backbone of the research, says the article, is looking at daily behavioural patterns using discreet sensors in some elder care facilities – allowing them to spot consistent patterns in behaviour and then how they may change as they age, and then if you need support or intervention.

According to Susann Keohane, founder of IBM’s Aging-in-Place Research Lab; “Aging isn’t a disease – we’re all doing it. But it does have impact on health. So, could we surround ourselves with emerging technology in the home, while assuring the privacy and security that comes with health care and design something that will help someone understand how well they’re aging in place?”

The thought of having sensors around your home isn’t for everyone. But knowing you can be alerted if a loved one needs your help – even if it isn’t immediate, or that you yourself are starting to display cognitive changes that may affect your decision-making process, is powerful indeed. We’ll be keeping a close eye on their progress.

A Fresh Perspective

On a slightly different note, this piece from author Lynn M. Spreen caught our eye as it argues that companies should be more ambitious with the products or services they offer older adults. And a lot less patronising with their marketing.

Leading with the call to arms that the ‘over 60 consumer wants more than pill reminder systems’, she refers to Joseph Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab who; “In spite of the fact that older people are living longer and better, [he says] his business students are stuck”. Coughlin continues; “I can’t tell you how many pill reminder systems I have seen (pitched to investors)”.

This current approach is clearly wrong for two reasons at least. Firstly, every person’s needs are different no matter their age, and secondly some are now working into their 70s or beyond and can therefore afford – and are likely to be interested in – a much broader range of products.

Lynn contrasts the statistics on the size of the group she is talking about (increasing by the year), the rate of tech adoption in that group (also increasing), and the idiotic headlines in magazines promoting products aimed at older people.

She says; “Corporate America just can’t seem to leave behind the image of people our age as doddering old fools. Besides pill reminder systems, they think we’re stupid about tech”. She continues; “I’d write more, but I need to get outside and do my morning walk while dictating the next chapter of my novel using Google Docs on my smartphone”.

And Finally

Kicking off a summary of other interesting articles spotted this month is this hugely popular article in Elle UK by presenter, writer and campaigner June Sarpong MBE – who now aged 40 is excited by the wisdom and experience that age brings – a perspective she believes should carry through into every decade that follows. As June says; “…age is not a reason to place limits, but rather a reason to avoid limitations in the first place and, more importantly, to value yourself, whatever your age”.

Then we have this article about Stanford University celebrating 10 years of driving the discussion on longevity, which according to their press release has helped make that discussion ‘both more inclusive and more optimistic’.

And finally, we have this article from The Cut about CoverGirl’s first 69-year-old spokesmodel and ambassador – Maye Musk. With a mother who refused to quit working until she was 96, and a son (Elon) who is changing the world as we know it, Maye believes ageing has only made her wiser. In her own words; “Everyday life is a little better”.

And so, on that note we say don’t forget to follow us on twitter, where every day we share the best stories about ageing.

Until next month, stay agile!

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Sections: CSL In The News

Wednesday November 8th, 2017 09:23

In the News November 2017 – Billions of reasons to #BeAgile

In the news_Nov 2017

Following the publication of the Agile Ageing Alliance’s white paper ‘Neighbourhoods of the Future: Better Homes for Older Adults – Improving Health, Care, Design and Technology’, we have been talking with public, private and third sector stakeholders about how best to translate our vision into physical and sustainable reality. To this end, last month AAA joined forces with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre to co-create a workshop hosted by NatWest at their London HQ.

Neighbourhoods of the Future: Framing the Challenge

AAA invited 40 expert stakeholders including start-ups, policymakers, big corporates and academics who were asked to work together, in a spirit of open innovation, to break down the challenges in developing and delivering the benefits of a ‘cognitive home’ in our smarter connected neighbourhoods of the future.

You can find out more about the Challenge here, and even more about our work in Ian Spero’s latest and provocative blog – ‘“The Elderly” = Doom, Gloom and Alarm. It’s Time to Press Reset’.

Before you do however, take a few moments to catch up with this month’s most popular stories from our work as the Agile Ageing Alliance. And if you don’t already, then make sure to follow Creative Skills for Life on twitter, where we continue sharing the best stories from around the world of creative ways to help those living with long-term or life limiting conditions.

Revolution in the Air

We kick off with this month’s most clicked article – an interview with social anthropologist and author Dave Prendergast by care specialists Elder, exploring the potential for technology to revolutionise later life.

Based at Intel, Dave was approached by Berghan Books to put together what the Huffington Post have called ‘one of the two most fascinating books on ageing in the 21st Century’.

In the article, Dave discusses what his research for ‘Aging and the Digital Life Course’ revealed about the needs of older people, and how emerging tech will change how we age.

Dave’s thinking is completely aligned to the AAA’s mission. Here is a taster:

“I believe that we have to design technologies that unfold, and that grows with the user. If you’re using a piece of technology for the first time, then we should make sure it’s simple and preferably use metaphors, familiar to the age cohort, within the design…Let’s make technology interesting and let’s make it fun for everyone, including those in later life.

“If it is possible to keep people out of hospitals and living independently for as long as possible, then that can only be a good thing…Digital Health technologies focused on things such as chronic disease management, falls prediction and detection, and care coordination can help with that, but we should be aware that homes can also become prisons. There are over a million older people who eat Christmas dinner by themselves in the UK each year – and we need to be thinking about how we design ‘ageing in the community’ not just within the bricks and mortar of the home. In the bigger picture, we have to make sure we are building companionship care into the equation with technology and not just replacing people with robots.”

It’s a shame the book’s priced at a point where many curious readers might not be able to afford it (£75)*, but there’s no doubting the issues it covers are important. We look forward to hearing more from Dave as we believe work like this will help change perceptions about our ability to revolutionise ageing.

*Correction – Since publishing, Dave has kindly pointed out that a paperback version of ‘Aging and the Digital Life Course’ is also available direct from Berghahn Books at £24. So if you were looking for your next big read then he’s just made it even easier for you!

In the Driving Seat

Tech’s power to support our ageing societies is a discussion taking place globally. This article in the South China Morning Post revealed how biomedical engineering is now seen as a potential driver of the Hong Kong economy – growing in popularity as a means of assisting well-being. In this case to accelerate recovery for stroke survivors.

According to the article; “Professor Raymond Tong Kai-yu, who heads Chinese University’s newly set-up biomedical engineering department, designed an award-winning robotic hand, which is dubbed the ‘Hand of Hope’”.

His ‘hand’ helps stroke survivors regain motor function after they leave hospital. It acts by assisting the user to open and close the hand, and according to Professor Kai-yu the brain learns to perform these actions again without the hand after just 20 sessions.

It’s a lovely story, but more importantly it’s encouraging to see more organisations realising that emerging tech can change how we live for the better and promote this as a driver for economic growth. As Ian said, ageing doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

Still Working

Another positive story we came across this month, was this announcement by Aviva UK. We’re surprised it didn’t get more traction in the press as it surely marks the beginning of a new trend, but it follows their Chief Exec Andy Briggs’ recent appointment as the government’s tsar for older workers.

Having forecast a £25bn boost to the economy by hiring older people, Briggs has put his company at the forefront of the push for better age representation in the UK workforce by promising to increase the number of people aged over 50 by 4000 – equating to 20% of their workforce.

Following his call for a minimum of 12% of people aged over 50 in UK workforces, three other large UK businesses (Co-op, Boots and Barclays) agreed to introduce what is being a called a ‘silver quota’.

According to the article; “Mr Briggs reiterated that he wanted to set an example by exceeding the 12% figure, adding that he also wants his workforce ‘to be reflective of both the communities we work in and of the customers we serve’ as life expectancy in Britain rises”.

We have no doubts we’ll see more such announcements. Not simply because this better represents our society, but also due to the benefits of creating a more even balance of experience across large businesses. What is interesting, is if this same approach can be applied to SMEs. It’s one thing to have a young team responding quickly to constantly evolving tech, but who’s steering the ship as they do?

And Finally

Companies retaining older workers is becoming an increasingly popular topic. We saw another great story this month in the New York Times, which found a company going that extra mile by helping older workers transfer to warmer climates during the winter to ensure they retain them in the workforce.

Also worth checking out are the outcomes from The Atlantic’s annual ‘The New Old Age’ event. It brings together “top experts on ageing for a frank discussion of age discrimination and to explore relevant issues ranging from ageing in place to longevity and work”. Plenty of food for thought.

And finally, Agile Ageing’s Ian Spero has been named number 4 in a list of the world’s top ageing influencers you should know about, by Aging in Place – the USA’s leading source of information, advice and inspiration for ageing in place. AIP founder Patrick Roden PHD says Ian is; “A deep thinker with an analytic perspective…he is one to follow as a thought leader on ageing and the environment”.

According to Patrick, Ian’s latest blog “…is thought provoking and a call to action”. Be sure to read it then, if you haven’t already!

So that’s it for this month. Be sure to follow AAA on twitter if you don’t already, and keep an eye out for more about the Open Innovation Challenge.

Until then, #BeAgile!

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Sections: CSL In The News

Monday October 2nd, 2017 14:16

In the News October 2017 – The tide is turning


In a month where Australian centenarian and fundraiser Irene O’Shea became the world’s oldest skydiver (aged 101 and 39 days), we take a look in our work as the Agile Ageing Alliance at more inspiring stories about the changing face of ageing.

And if you don’t already, then be sure to follow Creative Skills for Life on twitter, where we continue sharing the best stories from around the world of creative ways to help those living with long-term or life limiting conditions.

Smart thinking

We kick off with this article about Lindera, a German start-up using c to offer older adults more personalised care in their homes.

Building on her experience working with Microsoft, CEO and co-founder Diana Heinrichs wants to use data science to create a greater understanding of how long older adults can live independently at home.

Diana asks, “Imagine if you could know the individual likelihood of why, when and where a person might fall? How many people and how much money could you save?”

Lindera’s solution was to build an app-based mobility test powered by cognitive computing.

She explains, “We designed an integrative model combining proven psychological tests with a mathematical analysis of the gait to calculate the individual likelihood of a fall and to then provide tailored recommendations. Our goal is to provide elders something easy to use themselves at home”.

According to Diana, the app is already showing results with insurance companies licensing the tool to better align their service to individual need while lowering costs, and patients receiving clearer fall prevention plans they can share with family and caregivers.

With many predictions around AI focusing on what we may lose, it’s interesting to see a real-world example of how it can positively impact our lives on an individual basis. And as more of us choose to age in place, the more we know about how we’re doing the better.

Never too young to start

Staying at home for as long as you can isn’t just about your physical capabilities. It’s also about the home in which you live.

This article in the Irish Examiner focused on former electronic engineer and now chief officer at Ireland’s Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, Gerald Craddock.

Unusually, Craddock began his preparations for ageing in place in his 30s, ‘future-proofing’ his home during renovations as he knew he and his wife wouldn’t want to leave their community. An environmental factor that has been found to promote wellbeing.

For him, this meant ensuring accessibility with a ramp and leaving enough space in specific areas for modifications later down the line, such as a downstairs shower or lift.

According to Craddock; “It’s part of our human nature that we don’t think of ourselves getting old or think of ourselves as old, but design can have a significant impact on our environment, so it’s thinking in advance that is the key”.

With their population segment aged over-65 increasing in number faster than any other EU country, and an infrastructure set to be around for another 90 years (according to Craddock), adapting existing homes in Ireland will be key.

AAA is certain that the market for adapting homes to age in place will become huge. And it will be interesting to see if fitting luxury items like entertainment systems while that happens might become the norm. Maybe delivering games to positively impact both body and mind.

Very far away?

Talking of the future of gaming, this absorbing article in Wired explored the challenges faced when making brain training games. It focused on the work of cognitive neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley, creator of Neuroscape – a new research institute at the University of California, San Francisco.

Since their work began, Gazzaley has been addressing the challenge of proving the efficacy of brain games – what psychologists call ‘far transfer’. With much debate in the arena between scientists and companies pertaining to their actual impact, Gazzley is positive the evidence will come.

He says; “I think we will unlock the potential to optimize our cognitive abilities and our emotional regulation in a way that we have never seen before. I do believe that. Is that overselling it? Who knows. I’d rather be proven wrong in 15 years”.

What is certain, the amount of research addressing the challenges faced in ageing societies will continue growing. And if this finds ways to extend our health without the need for medication or surgery, this must be good.

In fact the same can be said for stories about ageing – a point echoed by Paula Span in her latest ‘New Old Age’ blog in the New York Times.

Fresh content

Often focusing on the challenges faced in caregiving, Paula’s blog regularly looks for fresh, personalised perspectives in what can be complex and sensitive issues.

In her own words; “The ranks of caregivers, both familial and professional, keep growing. Researchers and physicians learn more about ageing bodies and minds, what helps and what doesn’t; public policy changes, but not fast enough. There’s always more to talk about.”

What we may see less of however – as reaching the ripe age of 100 become the norm – are wonderful articles like this from Emine Saner in the Guardian – ‘How to live to 100 and be happy (by those who have done it!)’.

As the article states; “According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people aged 100 or more has quadrupled over the last two decades, and there are now a record number of centenarians in the UK: 14,570 at the last count”.

Which leads us to our final article – a recent interview between Appello UK’s Tim Barclay and Agile Ageing’s Ian Spero asking ‘Are housing providers ready for a revolution in long term care?’

In it, Ian outlines the big challenges and opportunities faced. But also, how small changes like imagining we are talking about ourselves when we talk about ageing can play a part in helping design the future we want to see.

As Ian says; “Let’s face it – we are all ageing and it makes more sense to think about what we as individuals will want and expect in terms of our lifestyle, care and housing provision in later life”.

That’s it for this month. If you enjoyed the stories you saw here then be sure to follow us on twitter, where we share daily the best stories pertaining to agile ageing from around the world.

Until next month, #BeAgile!

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Sections: CSL In The News

Tuesday September 5th, 2017 16:56

In the News September 2017 – A Place to Play


How we age is in revolution. Decreasingly an issue to fear or ignore, and more a fact of life we can embrace and even thrive in. Ian Spero’s recent article on the changing attitude of marketers toward older consumers celebrated this fact by placing a spotlight on those leading the way. Visionary companies realising the conceit of ‘anti-ageing’ is on its way out.

Substantiated by the insightful stories we found this month in our work as the Agile Ageing Alliance, this opportunity for change is being addressed across many sectors. This great article by Viktor Weber for the World Economic Forum for example, explores the impact emerging technologies are set to have on the very way we live.

Mortar life

In it, Weber reveals how our increasing longevity will impact healthcare and housing, and how technologies like 3D printing will allow us to build homes that are stronger and more environmentally sound. He also suggests repurposing office blocks when automation radically changes work as we know it, and that some people may begin to actively choose living their life offline.

It’s thought provoking stuff. In Weber’s own words; “It is vital to foster more holistic thinking, connecting the dots between technological, environmental, ethical, legal, political and societal changes – not just within the built environment, but any aspect of life. This is the only way we as a society can build a common vision for your future”.

AAA couldn’t agree more. Bringing people together to address the challenges we face, while realising the opportunities is what we do. Time however, isn’t on our side – the impact of an ageing population is already being felt across the job market, highlighted recently in this article from The Actuary magazine.

Working it out

The article led with the statistic that “the number of workers aged over 50 in the UK economy grew by 230,000 between the first quarter of 2016 and the first three months of this year”. And the same period saw the number of 35-49 year-olds decreasing by 48,000, while 143,000 UK-born employees stopped working – either through retirement or emigration.

Our ageing society (and limits on migration) they argue, is “likely to cause a workforce crisis for businesses that are not prepared for the transition”, meaning that “companies employing older workers need to create working environments that can capitalise on that, but also equip them with new skills to ensure profitability”.

According to Julia Howes, a workforce planning specialist from Mercer (who carried out the research); “It’s difficult to see how the industry will weather this storm unless it retains its UK workforce, maintains access to non-UK labour forces, automates, and ceases provision of some services”.

Whatever the solution at scale, there are high-profile individuals arguing that ending the enforced retirement of experienced individuals, particularly women, must be part of the solution. Not just to keep the workforce diverse and primed, but to help those living into their 90s or beyond remain fully engaged with life.

Mum knows best

Sally Koslow illustrated this argument in her recent call to arms in the New York Times. Inspired by her aunt’s lucidity and lust for life at 100, this personal piece argued that in a world that cherishes youth, the options for women to stay sharp by continuing to work are limited.

When the choice for early retirement was made for her, Koslow’s answer was to join the gig economy. Granted this isn’t a choice everyone has, but it shows that just because industry makes a decision for you, it doesn’t mean you’re done.

Koslow says female managers should do their bit by considering hiring women their mother’s age. As she wrote; “Today’s 30- and 40-somethings can’t ‘lean in’ forever. If they don’t address embedded ageism, they’ll blink, pass 50, and possibly see their success evaporate faster than a boss can say, ‘Sorry, we’re going in another direction.’ A younger direction”.

Once again however, we can’t wait too long as this younger direction is getting younger by the day. Our last two stories prove just that.


Since she was 11, the prodigiously talented Laura Deming has been interested in ageing. And now aged 23 the venture capitalist has just closed her second fund – focused on aging – with $22 million. According to Deming, “aging has become a place to play”.

And showing youth isn’t always wasted on the young, this article from Generation Change introduced us to their project bringing young children and older people in care homes together to rediscover the joy of personal contact. As they say; “Bringing the generations together is not only a positive thing to do – it could become increasingly necessary over the coming decade.

As more people join the revolution and find new opportunities in our ageing society, we’ll be sure to share their story on the Agile Ageing Twitter feed. Be sure too, to follow the CSL Twitter feed, where we share the stories we continue discovering on creative solutions helping those with long term and life limiting conditions live a fuller life.

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Thursday August 10th, 2017 15:40

In the News August 2017 – Life in the Fast Lane


This month’s news digest from our work as the Agile Ageing Alliance has a truly international feel. It features an Australian centenarian ballet dancer, advice from the U.S. on living in place and a record breaking rally driver from Ireland.

There were some great stories in the world of CSL too, such as this one about an art studio in Washington D.C that helps people with disabilities turn their passion into a career, one on the world’s first water park for children with disabilities, and this very popular story on 15 health and wellness use cases for virtual reality.

Head to the barre

We begin with this inspiring story about 102-year-old dancer and artist Eileen Kramer. Right now, she is working on a ballet in which she plans to perform, is the ambassador for the Arts Health Institute, has appeared in music videos, and collaborates on fashion projects.

According to the article’s author Fiona Smith; “Kramer is one of a growing number of older Australians who have decided to do ageing differently, busting through the stereotypes that say that people retire, apply for a pension, downsize to an apartment, then move to a retirement village to play cards, and then shuffle off to a nursing home to quietly die”.

Read the article in full, as it reveals the challenges facing older adults seeking work, the negative perceptions of ageing (including from older adults themselves), and the results of a three-month fact-finding trip around Australia by The Ageing Revolution.

But what shines through is the power of creativity to keep us connected to the world around us, and indeed ourselves. In Kramer’s own words: “If you are doing creative work, you are absolutely ageless. There is no such thing as age in creativity. It is always something new”.

Back on track

Kramer wasn’t the only inspiring older adult we met this month. 79-year-old former rally driver Rosemary Smith recently helped the Renault Sport Formula One Team celebrate their 40th anniversary by sitting behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car to become the oldest adult to drive an 800bhp F1 car.

According to this article, the former seamstress; “has competed in some of the most iconic rallies around the world, taking home many trophies despite disqualifications and people looking to hold her back in the notoriously male-dominated sport”.

The accompanying short film is goose-bump inducing, drawing on the grainy footage of Smith’s trophy-laden past. And it proves that as exciting as innovations are, you can’t replace the weight of history. And as more brands like Renault reach milestones, we’re sure to see more tapping into their past to stand out from one another – leading to more stars like Smith stepping back into the limelight.

Ageing behind bars

Not all this month’s most read articles were positive however. This one from The Guardian’s Amelia Hill, the journalist who launched the excellent ‘new retirement‘ series earlier this year, revealed the reality of ageing in prison.

Hill wrote; “In the last 15 years, the number of prisoners over the age of 60 has tripled. The rate of octogenarians serving time has almost doubled in the last two years, and there are now a dozen inmates in their 90s. There’s even one of 101”. And more startling still; “prisons are now the UK’s largest provider of residential care for frail, elderly men”.

The challenges for the future of our prison population are many. The design of the buildings doesn’t allow for wheelchairs, showers become inaccessible and leaving a cell for even limited times becomes harder.

As the article details, the issue is understandably complex. But as more inmates reach older age, developing conditions like dementia, then it will continue to worsen unless future prisons are designed with this in mind. Whatever happens, we are sure to hear more of the challenges faced by older adults in our aged institutions.

Bitesize stories

And now for the other most clicked stories from this month. The first came courtesy of Marla Beck, who wrote in Seattle Living about how to age in place by downsizing your home. Unsurprisingly, this story from Honour Whiteman in Medical News Today also caught people’s attention, when she wrote about a recent review suggesting chocolate may improve cognitive function within hours. And this new report also proved popular – ‘Overcoming the barriers to a better later life’ – courtesy of authors Amelia Christie and Adrian McDowell in Independent Age. Be sure to check them out as they have a wealth of insightful content.

But if all that’s not enough for you, please do take a moment to investigate Shirley Ayres’ book ‘The Click Guide to Ageing Well’, which brings together ‘the best online resources for the many organisations working in the ageing sector’. And last but certainly not least, read Sara McKee of the wonderful Evermore’s guest blog ‘Older Age Care: It’s time for an intervention’. You can find it here.

That’s it, until next month make sure to follow us on Twitter where we share the best stories from around the world on creative ways to improve the lives of those with long term and life limiting conditions.

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Monday July 24th, 2017 15:05

Older Age Care: It’s time for an intervention – Sara McKee

Evermore design small household living for later life, giving older people the chance to ‘live an independent life to the full, surrounded by people who care’.

Recently named a top innovator in active and healthy ageing by the European Commission, Evermore Founder, Sara McKee explains here why older age care is in need of an intervention.

Invites_Sara McKee_July 2017

The shemozzle over the Conservative’s social care manifesto paints a picture of a Government struggling to grapple with the challenges of older age care.

Nobody at a senior level in politics knows how to tackle it. I’ve lost count of the number of commissions that have been held into funding older age care and yet we seem no closer to a solution.

It’s time for an intervention.

We’ve grasped the bull by the horns in Greater Manchester and are powering ahead with introducing new ways of living in later life, and aligning social care with our health system so we can provide truly integrated services.

I’ve been beating the drum for positive housing choices for older people for five years. One of the biggest challenges this country has is that there is not enough appealing or appropriate housing.

You may wonder why I’m focused on housing in the context of funding. Well, research has proven that the right housing has a massive impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. If we can get the housing right, we can help older people keep happy and well so they are less likely to need health and social care services.

What’s more, the right housing can tackle the social isolation crisis. Loneliness is a massive public health issue and the biggest predictor of an early death according to geriatricians in Manchester. But if you create a community that provides real companionship as well as supporting older people to retain vital connections, we begin to address some of the reasons for isolation in the first place.

So what kind of housing is needed?

We believe in a greater choice for older people and that’s why we’re excited to be building the first Evermore community in the centre of Wigan. The Evermore small household model provides student living for older people with a safety net. Single older people will live together in households of around 10 with life revolving around a central kitchen and hearth – much like the family home. They’ll have their own apartments and be supported by a team of Mulinellos. They’ll be encouraged to take an active part in the running of the household, from sharing meals together around a large kitchen table to contributing to daily social activities.

As part of the Wigan development, we’ll have two specialist households for people living with dementia. They won’t be defined by their illness and resulting disability, nor will illness be the sole basis of care and interaction. Our Mulinellos will respond to the individual and provide support based on the customer’s abilities, building on their strengths and finding ways to compensate for the losses brought about by their illness. The focus is on integration not isolation – they won’t be incarcerated in secure units.

The strength of the Evermore household model is that it can be adapted to multiple settings. For example, we’re redesigning an intermediate care unit for a Manchester NHS Trust to operate as an Evermore household. This is so people can recuperate in a homelike environment and staff can spend more quality time with individuals. Both clinicians and patients receive a much more positive experience.

What we’re proposing isn’t rocket science but siloed thinking and a low risk threshold has meant the public sector hasn’t been prepared to make these changes in the past. However, the devolution agenda in Greater Manchester has given people the freedom and the budget to introduce new models and ways of working.

We’re excited about the changes taking place and our role in it, and believe Greater Manchester is setting the scene for true health and social care transformation with Evermore households right at the heart of the Local Care Organisation. Now that’s an intervention.

Sara McKee, Evermore Founder and Director of Market Innovation


To learn more about Sara and Evermore’s work, you can find Sara on LinkedIn and learn more about Evermore here.

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Thursday July 6th, 2017 15:11

In the News July 2017 – Skills to Pay the Bills


As the first month of sharing more news from the world of Agile Ageing, this month’s digest is a bumper edition. It features feminism, award nominations, nonagenarian innovators and much more. Inspirational people using their hard-won experience to stay agile, defy convention and gain global attention. We start with a woman who, quite frankly, could inspire people quarter her age to up their game.

Ageless Design

We met Barbara Knickerbocker Beskind in this recent article from Next Avenue, introducing probably the world’s only 93-year-old product designer, author, occupational therapist and all-round instigator.

Calling on her years of experience, including time working with the U.S. Army, Beskind now works with global design company IDEO on new products for older adults, particularly for those with physical limitations. Work which led her to being named a Design Fellow aged 92.

On her achievements, Beskind says; “Businesses have a responsibility to reach out to older workers and advisers. But older people need to do the same by reaching out and pursuing roles that keep you engaged and relevant”.

We couldn’t agree more. How can any business not be represented by a workforce as diverse as the people they sell to? One man who certainly thinks the opportunities are huge got plenty of clicks this month too…

An Age of Revolution

Sociologist and author Peter Gross was asked recently by Swiss Life to share his thoughts on our ageing society.

Amongst his many suggestions was making language better reflect ageing as an opportunity rather than a burden, abolishing the age of retirement and the need for businesses to recognise older workers as part of a recipe for success rather than a burden. In his words; “Older employees know what older customers want, and how to talk to them”.

But of most interest were his ideas on what an ageing society could do for our quality of life. He says; “[It] gives us the chance to restructure our society. The demographic trend to fewer children and a long life is slowing our modern society down, and relaxing it. And it pays a peace dividend. Cultures with plenty of young people tend to be unstable and violent. Old folks don’t beat each other’s brains in”.

It’s quite an image he leaves us with, but another popular article from this month (the most popular in fact) was equally unflinching in its assessment.

About Time

Writer, commentator and lecturer Jane Caro wrote recently about some of the key issues affecting Australian women over 50, including ageing, work, money and relationships.

She wrote about the ‘unexpected ‘bonuses’ of life after 50′ that women can experience; particularly the chance to put their own needs first after a lifetime of caring for others. “That’s why women over 50 flock to writers’ festivals, art classes, yoga, pilates and aqua-aerobics. It’s why we swell the audiences at cinemas (hint to film-makers: we’d go to even more if you made them about us), theatres, musicals, book clubs, travel, cruises and resorts.”

That’s for the lucky ones however. For others; “It is when women turn 50 (as it is for men) that their ability to remain employed becomes shaky. If they are in low-paid, relatively low-skilled occupations, losing their job can be a disaster”.

Caro argues that feminism is therefore an ‘incomplete project’. It must work to represent those who thought they had no need for feminism when they were young, those who’ve been ‘left out in the cold by a sexist society’.

Every generation will have new challenges in our ageing society, and we hope frank discussions inspired by writers like Caro and Gross enable action that benefits everyone. Research of ways innovation can help are another way, which leads us on to this recent article from MedCityNews.

Sensing a Change

The article focuses on the potential for passive sensors to “reduce costly hospitalizations and custodial care” by monitoring the activity of older people living at home. By monitoring their usual daily activity, the sensors can alert carers to any changes – such as reduced movement or use of appliances. And although conducted with only a small patient sample, the results were positive.

We mention this as a second article we shared this month also received a lot of interest – and it highlighted the need for more investment in technology to help reduce costs in the NHS. It revealed that research by the International Longevity Centre shows the NHS; “has to harness the power of ‘transformative innovation’, with potential higher spending in the deployment phase to be recovered in the long-term”.

It cited an example from the Manchester Royal Infirmary, “that offers both training and equipment for patients with dialysis at home, reportedly providing savings of 40%, adding up to £1m since its launch”.

This is great to see and we look forward to seeing more innovation adapting healthcare to individual needs. We don’t think there can many people in health right now thinking technology in the home won’t play a greater part in our health care.

Some Food for Thought

Rounding off July’s digest is a whistle-stop tour of this month’s other popular stories. We start with this wonderful piece of news about Evermore (designers of small household living for later life, and AAA member), recently named as one of the top innovators in active and healthy ageing by the European Commission. A huge congratulations to Sara McKee and the team!

For those thinking of early retirement, take a moment to read this thought-provoking article from Kristin Wong in Lifehacker on the potential impact of early retirement on our cognitive functions. Then consider the physical implications with this interesting listicle of the top 10 health trends of baby boomers – number seven may be of interest to hipster coffee makers. And finally, this documentary ‘Coming of Age in America’ focuses on the “permanent shift toward an aging society”, and is available to watch for free until August 1, streamed through Next Avenue. Enjoy.

That’s it for this month. Until the next, do make sure to check out CSL’s regular tweets and indeed the AAA’s.

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Friday June 9th, 2017 15:56

In the news June 2017: His Master’s Voice

In the news June 2017

With so much going on in the world of the Agile Ageing Alliance, CSL will be taking a little time to help support ambitions to develop it further. As such, we’ll be sharing more AAA news here on CSL, in addition to stories about those finding new and creative ways to help people with life limiting and long-term conditions.

What’s the Weather Like Outside?

We’ll start this month’s news with this light-hearted sketch from the Saturday Night Live show. SNL has been hitting a lot of headlines of late with their commentary on the US presidency, but this recent video got our attention as reimagined how the voice-controlled Amazon Echo device might be tweaked to better serve older users.

Admittedly it is a little patronising, but once you’ve seen it take a moment to think about the devices that are being developed to help people live independently for longer. For example, ElliQ is as this article explains; “…an “active aging companion, [and] it looks like a combination of an Android tablet, a digital assistant like Alexa or Siri, and software designed to help the elderly connect with friends and family”. But what makes ElliQ unique, the article continues, “is the robot component: an attached bobble head-esque animatronic that provides a physical, moving manifestation of the digital assistant”.

What we found particularly interesting was that home devices like this are being developed to learn about the people using them. And through this learning they could help address things like physical health (by encouraging users to do suitable exercise), or cognitive issues such as dementia – as seen with their capacity to remember the names of users’ loved ones or play a favourite song by requesting just that.

Music’s power to positively impact our lives, almost immediately, leads us to our next article which focuses on the potential for personal music playlists to reduce medication use for those with dementia.

Play it Again Sam

In this recent article we learnt that; “Nursing home residents with dementia who listen to a personalized music playlist may need less psychotropic medication and have improved behaviour, a recent study suggests”.

The findings come after researchers implemented an individualized program called Music and Memory “in 98 nursing homes with a total of about 13,000 residents with Alzheimer’s disease or non-Alzheimer’s dementia”, which resulted in “greater improvements in residents’ behavior” as well as “reduced dementia-related behavioral problems”.

Now we do write quite regularly about the positive impact of music on the lives of those with dementia, and indeed all of us for that matter, but we continue to welcome research like this as it strengthens the argument for decision makers to legislate for its use in addition to prescribed medicine.

Speaking of research-backed initiatives creatively changing lives, we saw a couple of really inspiring stories this month around Mental Health Awareness Week.

Just Tattoo of Us

This article introduced us to ‘The Art of a Peaceful Mind’, a colouring book “comprising illustrations from young artists to visually represent the ways they relax and use self-care.” According to PAPYRUS, the national charity for the prevention of young suicide, “the book aims to raise awareness of the help available to young people feeling overwhelmed and suicidal”.

We think it’s great because anything that helps stimulate the creative potential within someone who benefits physically or mentally has to be good. And this can come in many surprising ways. Like getting a tattoo perhaps…

OK they might be temporary, but as we learnt from this recent article, artist Francesca Timbers has designed a series of temporary tattoos to help people struggling with their mental health and to stop them self-harming, after her own ill health left her feeling suicidal.

It may only seem like a small gesture, but as a 2011 study found temporary tattoos have been found to help as a “method of discussing and altering self-harm behaviours and countering negative body image”. Studies which Timbers says she has used to influence her work and designs.

We wish Francesca well, and indeed all those coming up with new and creative ways to help people manage or overcome life limiting or long-term conditions. And as CSL continues its work, while supporting the Agile Ageing Alliance with its ambitions, we look forward to sharing the many stories we find on our travels.

That’s it for this month. Do make sure to check out CSL’s regular tweets and indeed the AAA’s – because with so much going on right now we’re really excited about what comes next.

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