Back to the future

As we slowly emerge from taking one day at a time, thoughts turn naturally to what tomorrow holds.

With few aspects of our lives unaffected by this year’s events, AAA is committed to a number of pioneering projects identifying and accelerating innovation to achieve real societal change.

In his new article, Ian Spero has united the threads of that activity – inviting us to explore a possible future for our older selves.

There you’ll find details of our AAA ISO Leaders Forum - establishing a new ISO Standard for our neighbourhoods of the future, a £40 million Innovate UK competition fast-tracking innovations born of the Coronavirus crisis, and the WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing (with details of how you can play your part).

Centre Stage

The risks associated with not acting today are brought into focus by this month’s next article.

Speaking to iNews around the launch of her new book (or manifesto) ‘The Age of Ageing Better’, Dr Anna Dixon outlines a troubling future if current societal trends aren’t addressed.

If the impact of automation, virtual convenience shopping and dominant tech firms ‘eluding national tax authorities’ is not acknowledged, she predicts a 2040 with deserted high streets, reduced state pensions, and high cuts in public spending.

That is why, Anna explains, the Centre For Ageing Better (the organisation she leads), not only works to improve the lives of older adults, but also urges younger people to think about how they want to live as they age.

As part of their research, the Centre has taken the innovative step of asking volunteers to wear body-cams around their home to see first-hand the reality of ageing in homes built for their younger selves.

They revealed “that struggling with the stairs up to their toilet, they would begin to reduce their water intake – which could bring about its own set of health problems. Similarly, if someone struggled to reach their kitchen food cupboards, they ended up leaving all their groceries out on their kitchen counter”.

These may seem simple observations, but if we’re not tackling the simple stuff now, then how will we manage as more of us age in place?

We humans have thrived thanks to our power to imagine the future. Getting more people to visualise their older selves to create an alternative to Anna’s future however, may be our biggest challenge yet.

Home Care

A new survey by wealth manager Canada Wealth, has found that 2020’s events are leading some to significantly rethink their future.

The impact on care homes has led around 1 in 5 to consider using their savings to avoid going into a care home, instead paying for in-home care.

With some not wanting to impose themselves on their children, and others presumably not even having that as an option, The Telegraph calculated this switch would add an extra £40,000 to the annual cost of living.

Says Age UK’s Caroline Abrahams: “It’s not at all surprising given what’s happened, but if you’re unlucky enough to need a lot of care it’s going to be very expensive”.

This raises several questions.

Will social care ever recover from its current financial challenges, and the speed at which Covid took hold?

Furthermore, how many people can afford an additional £40k a year? And will the workforce be available to serve this increasing demand?

Moving in with family members is an option. But only if your family has a home suited to multigenerational living.

These are just some of the reasons why building new communities that serve our diverse range of physical and social needs is essential.

Not until we can support each other and tap into one another’s strengths – our knowledge, our capacity to support, our shared energy - will the size of your savings cease to determine your ability to live worry free in later years.

Future Fathers

In addition to considering our older selves, we thought this article resonated as it rather beautifully explored the potential for older fathers to share their time and experience to help the next generation manage their own longevity.

In it, Gerontologist, Ken Dychwald issues a (calm and thoughtful) rallying call to fathers around the world to raise their game.

Now we can expect to live long enough to see our kids become senior citizens, and mothers fight for social justice with movements like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, he asks “what are today’s dads fighting for?”

Ken argues; “…the key roles of fathers emerged over the centuries before widespread longevity, and they principally had to do with procreating, providing, and protecting. Today, if we’re going to spend five, six, seven, or more decades being fathers, new roles and role models are needed”.

So far, however; “In terms of reaching their potential as role models and leaders, older fathers today rate about a C-minus. The time has come to use our longevity bonus years—the decades we’ll have that previous generations didn’t—to create a different model of manhood, elderhood, and fatherhood”.

We love these kinds of reflective insights. They realise the truth that older age is one bonus that should be shared freely.

In other news

Around the world, this month has seen many more developments inspired by our increasing longevity and the drive to innovate.

In Belgium for example, one tech-accelerator has made a first by 3D-printing a two storey house, on site. Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the developers Kamp C say the construction industry is being asked to “reduce our consumption of materials and energy, reduce CO2 emissions and the waste stream, the demand for high-quality and affordable housing is on the rise”.

Saving an estimated 60% of material, time, and budget, it points the way to a more responsive form of house building where it can be designed totally to the needs of the user, far faster and cheaper than before.

Next we look to leading British designer design Sebastian Conran, who has teamed up with Eyra, a start-up “aimed specifically at making cooking easier for older generations who ‘demand better design’ without compromising on a contemporary aesthetic”.

Their new kitchen utensils are designed specifically for people with limited wrist mobility. They came about after Sebastian was designing for another company and realised there‪ was a gap in the market for beautifully made products for older adults.

The fact they’re getting coverage in trendy design publications like Dezeen proves there’s a market to talk about them too.

Next, we look at this delightful piece in the BBC’s ongoing 100 Year Life series. It focuses on Susan Wilder, CEO and founder of family medicine practice LifeScape, aged 57.

What’s remarkable is that she is in training for the Centenarian Olympics… in 2062. If it’s inspiration you’re looking for, this is certainly the piece for you.

It may also inspire you to keep exploring the world, taking advantage of offers like this new one from Greece. Rather than looking to attract entrepreneurs or students, they have introduced a 7% income tax rate on pension incomes to attract more retirees to the country.

Lower than Portugal’s 10% offer, it’s sweetened by the fact they had one of Europe’s best responses to Covid-19, while being a beautiful country to spend any time in, by our reckoning. Cue an ageing bidding war!

That’s all for this month. Until the next, be sure to follow us on Twitter and #BeAgile!

Image used with permission: Copyright.