Friday 18 December 2015, 11:10 | By Adam Hallows
In the News Dec 2015: Whistle While You Work
If you’ve been following our work with Innovate UK and the Long Term Care National Challenge, you may have seen the recent announcement of its winners, two projects tackling long term care from completely different angles.
One is a set of intelligent modular robotic systems called CHIRON, which ‘enables people to stay independent for longer, enabling them to remain mentally engaged, and generally extend their years of healthy and fulfilling life.’ The other, ‘Give and Take Care’, is the brainchild of Professor Heinz Wolff which helps people ‘save’ for their retirement and later years by caring for those already there; from an 87 year old still generating innovative ideas.
Which leads us to ask, what are your plans for living a long and fulfilled life? One in which robotics like the CHIRON project, and automation will be playing an increasing role?
Well, why not start by reading this provocative article from The Guardian, outlining just some of the ways in which advancements in tech will transform the way we live out our later years. It details a future where more jobs, white and blue collar, will be automated, bosses will know more about our everyday health through wearables, and more of us will be working remotely, competing for work globally.
“There’s going to be a huge change, comparable to the industrial revolution,” says Jerry Kaplan, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who teaches a class in artificial intelligence at Stanford. Robots and intelligent computer systems, he says, “are going to have a far more dramatic impact on the workplace than the internet has”.
There are upsides though, as healthcare is already seeing the benefits of greater processing power with IBM’s Watson computer now being used to diagnose cancer patients in the US. Apparently Watson can “sift through symptoms, medical histories and the latest research to deliver diagnoses and suggest potential treatments,” which hopefully means doctors will be able to spend more time with their patients.
So yes they may lead many of us into career changes, but they’ll know how we’re doing, health-wise, before we do. Let’s hope we’re listening though, and not too busy working out how to get ahead in the new ‘lattice’ style organisations the article says will replace the traditional ladder style; where “ideas flow along horizontal, vertical and diagonal paths.” We might not be able to out-process them, but we can sure get around the office faster.
Don’t let it get you down though, because if there’s another thing we’ve learned recently, courtesy of Gaby Hinsliff, is that as you get older, life gets better!
Back with more of a sigh than a bang, Adele’s new, yet downbeat album ‘25’ led Hinsliff to offer advice to the young songstress about not letting things get to her so much. Ageing, she says, “brings with it a contentment to replace the frustrations or fears that can often preoccupy younger people. Experience teaches us, perhaps, to care less about negative feedback and filter out things that would once have made us unhappy.” Even better news for those of us still to get there, she continues; “Humanity returns to peak happiness somewhere in early retirement.”
Only time will tell if Adele heeds her advice, but if subsequent more upbeat releases results in lower sales then at least she knows it won’t bother her too much.
The science of positive thought
It’s not only columnists telling us to think positively. According to a recent study from Yale, people who think negatively about growing old are more likely to suffer brain changes that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Becca Levy, associate professor of public health and of psychology, said: “We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about ageing that individuals sometimes internalize from society that can result in pathological brain changes.”
The study suggests that eradicating all negative beliefs about growing old, including views such as ‘older people are decrepit’, could help reduce the rate of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Although the findings are concerning, it is encouraging to realise that these negative beliefs about ageing can be mitigated and positive beliefs about ageing can be reinforced, so that the adverse impact is not inevitable.”
We’ll toast to that, so how to get into this more positive frame of mind? Well what about a wee tipple? Doctor’s orders…
A glass a day?
According to research conducted by the Danish Alzheimer’s Intervention Study. It ‘has proved a link between moderate alcohol consumption and a reduced risk of death in people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.’
Don’t head straight to Oddbins though, as they also clarified that; “While this small study shows a link between moderate drinking and reduced risk of death in people with Alzheimer’s, we simply don’t yet know why that might be the case. Drinking is often a social activity, and factors such as social interaction have previously been shown to benefit people with dementia, so this could well have a part to play in these results.”
So get your CV up to date, ditch the Adele albums and stay in touch with your friends and family. Hopefully in a few years’ time our wearables will be telling us to have more fun, because it’s good for our health.
Until then, stay up to date with everything health, tech and creatively minded via the CSL twitter feed.
And from all at CSL, have a fantastic Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year!