Wednesday March 7th, 2018 06:41

In the News March 2018 – The Age of Super Humans

InthenewsMarch2018

Two thought-provoking articles from AAA’s Ian Spero (Dare to Care Different and Silver Economy Predicted to Generate 6.4 Trillion Euros & Employ 88m by 2025) highlighted some of the trends informing our ageing society through innovation and technology. If you want to see how the future of social care and the silver economy are taking shape, be sure to investigate.

Before you go, here are some of our favourite agile ageing stories from around the world. Once again, we turn to Japan – which still leads the way when it comes to innovation and ageing.

Land of the Rising Sun

Produced with funding from the Pulitzer Center, this article by Shiho Fukada reveals how Japan is employing cutting edge technology to improve quality of life for its rapidly ageing population.

Mr Fukada introduces us to innovators like Kenta Toshima, a therapist in Tokyo who has “spent most of his savings to travel the world, so that he can bring far-off lands back to his elderly patients”. Seeing the impact his VR films have on their desire to be more mobile is quite something.

We also learn about the growing use of robots in senior care facilities to encourage activity, connect residents and carers, and even improve mental wellbeing through companionship.

Although it doesn’t fill us with joy to see robots replacing people (carers are in short supply), and care facilities being the preferred means for living, it does offer hope that technology can bring people together, inspire action and even encourage some to complete physical therapy to get moving again.

It’s Good to Talk

Staying connected is more than being occupied, it can keep us alive. This essential piece of journalism from John Harris in the Guardian acts as a timely reminder to anyone who thinks it doesn’t apply to them.

According to Harris; “We seem to have a collective aversion to focusing on the realities of an ageing society. But there is an even bigger issue. Far too many of us refuse to consider the prospect of our own advancing years – or, worse still, give any attention to people already dealing with theirs”.

To address this, he argues, “we must change the way we view retirement as sudden and without ambition, and cease viewing home as somewhere to be alone, but instead a place to stay connected with others”.

The solution, he believes, could be the Scandinavian-style cohousing, seen in several projects already running in the UK such as Cannock Mill near Colchester. According to one resident: “A lot of illness in old age is related to social isolation. That won’t happen to us, because we’ll have a permanent community.”

Extra Time

For those uneasy at the thought of robot friends or community living, then what about continuing to work to stay healthy and connected?

This interesting article in Forbes’ Next Avenue looked at several studies about the health benefits of delaying retirement for as long as possible. Although the results were mixed, one found a significant increase in mortality in the US around age 62 (the age of retirement), while a landmark 2016 study revealed that healthy retirees aged 65 had a 11% lower mortality rate than those who retired earlier.

Dr Donald O Mack from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Centre clarifies that “people who are still working aged after age 65 are generally in less physically demanding jobs”, but nevertheless, he continues “are healthier emotionally than their counterparts who retired”.

With a high level of education strongly related to longevity, then could later-life learning for a new more sedentary, yet stimulating role be a solution? Elder universities – yet another possible market to expand in the future then.

The Supers’ Secret

Returning to our theme of ‘superagers’, this piece also from the Guardian revealed how research around the brains of superagers showed more of a certain type of brain cell known as Von Economo neurons, than average elderly individuals.

Apparently; “These neurons are also found in a small group of higher mammals and are thought to increase communication. The team hopes that the findings might help scientists to unpick what causes Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and why some people might be resilient”.

Prof Emily Rogalski, from Northwestern University explains; “We are getting quite good at extending our lifespan but our health span isn’t keeping up and what the superagers have is more of a balance between those two, they are living long and living well”.

Challenging the Cult of Youth

We also discovered that it’s not just us who are ageing, but so too our social networks. This report revealed that as Facebook has aged (it’s just turned 14), so has it user base. This is of interest as Facebook’s business model is built around advertising, and with the products made for older people steadily increasing, then the elder social statesman may be around for much longer than some critics are suggesting.

Indeed, the cult of youth may be under threat. That’s one impression to take away from our final piece, this lovely article in the New York Times about a recent exhibition on the potential for ‘ageing pride to challenge the cult of youth’.

As the gallery itself says; “Anti-aging is heard more often in our society than the wisdom of age… Bowing to the cult of youth, images of age are often dictated by the cosmetics industry. Countering this are the many historical and contemporary works by artists pursuing a completely different idea of age.”

So let’s stick together, retire only when we’re ready and keep checking in on Japan to see what they do next. Until next, #BeAgile and be sure to follow Agile Ageing on twitter, and if you don’t already Creative Skills for Life too!

Image used with permission. Copyright Pat138241

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sections: CSL In The News

Thursday July 6th, 2017 15:11

In the News July 2017 – Skills to Pay the Bills

InthenewsJuly2017

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.

Image used with permission: Copyright

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sections: CSL In The News - Uncategorized