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AAA™: In the news December 2016

It's been a fantastic year in the world of Agile Ageing. Having met, heard from and been inspired by so many people, organisations and ideas, we're very much looking forward to 2017.

Right now however, we're in Brussels with a host of international cross-sector stakeholders at the European Summit on Digital Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing. Tomorrow, we host our Neighbourhoods of the Future event, where we will present insights from the Agile Ageing Roadshow and further explore the co-creation of a European Reference Framework for age friendly homes. See the full programme here and to follow the roadshow, please join our LinkedIn group.

We will be sure to report back in the New Year, but until then here's the best stories we've seen this month in the world of Agile Ageing. Enjoy!

Connecting the dots

Fuelled by cheaper, smaller more advanced technologies, the Internet of Things is opening the door to a world of possibility. Apps brought our phones to life and if the same happens with our things – fridges, lights, cars – then only our imagination will limit what we can do with them. Imagine bathroom scales connected to your clothes, your fridge and your doctor – all directing you via your phone (or voice-activated device) toward the healthiest food and best exercise for the day?

But even sooner, what does IoT mean for our ageing population, and the approximate 850,000 people experiencing dementia in the UK?

According to this recent article; "Dementia is now the leading cause of death in England and Wales... But a new wave of connected devices, dubbed "the internet of things", could offer new ways to help people live independently for longer."

Idris Jahn, head of health and data at IoTUK says; "While phone calls and text messages help to keep people in touch, problems can still arise, from missed appointments to difficulties in taking medication correctly. But connected sensors and devices that collect and process data in real time could help solve the problem."

He continues; "For [people living with dementia] the sensors would be more in the environment itself, so embedded into the plug sockets, into the lights – so it is effectively invisible. You carry on living your life but in the background things will monitor you and provide feedback to people who need to know."

For many, the thought of connecting our home to the internet or a feedback loop monitored by others holds as many questions as it does wonder. Do we want our fridge telling us what to eat? But for those who rely on others, to be part of a loop alerting to things out of the ordinary, it has the potential to more easily recognise signs that something is wrong and instigate action - such as phone calls or visits.

In the not-too-distant future, automation (cars), IoT, and even VR - are likely to help us live independently for longer, keep us connected with each other and tell us more about our body. That's a good job, as according to this article more young people are already beginning to display signs of conditions normally related to older age, some as early as their 20s.

Old before their time

According to analysis led by Bupa; "Bad postures and sedentary lifestyles have led to a rise in the number of younger people experiencing complaints such as back pain and haemorrhoids."

Attributed to increased time sat in front of computers, staring at our phones and even watching box sets, it has given rise to more procedures such as arthroscopic knee operations, a surgical technique using a tiny camera to look inside the knee.

Tim Hutchful, a BCA chiropractor, says in the article that he is; "concerned that the number of patients under the age of 30 coming through our doors is increasing. When people use laptops or mobile phones in bed they tend to forget their posture, hunch over the screen and leave their spine unsupported, which can damage posture and cause back or neck pain."

Having seen only a little coverage of this worrying trend, we could believe it is of less concern than say obesity - described as the new smoking by Simon Stevens back in 2014 - but if health systems are to continue improving their capacity to support and even extend further our increasing longevity, then we will need to start addressing these sedentary lifestyles soon.

So who will be our Mr (and Mrs) Motivator's? Our shining beacons of health and happiness? Why not start with these two go-getters, the first of which is not far off her 100th year.

Rise of the yogalebrity

Meet Täo Porchon-Lynch, who at 98 is officially the world's oldest living yoga teacher and the 'poster child for the active life'. Still teaching, competing in ballroom dancing, driving around New York and much, much more she is winning fans around the world with her lust for life.

According to Joann Burnham, a founder of the annual Nantucket Yoga Festival; "Being in her presence and seeing the expectations of what someone would think about someone who is 98, and seeing all those expectations squashed, is so incredible."

Read the article in full to learn more about her fascinating life, but more than anything she proves that life really is what you make of it and you're never too old surprise yourself, or others. Much like this headline-grabbing job seeker.

Local man gets his 15 minutes – at 89

Joe Bartley was bowled over recently when his local ad looking for work not only won him a job but national fame. According to this article; "Bartley, put an advert in the Herald Express twice last month. It read: "Senior citizen, 89, seeks employment in Paignton area. 20hrs+ per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!"

So inspired were local business the Cantina Bar and Kitchen, they quickly offered him work. As co-owner Sarah Martin said; "Most people have got something to offer and Joe is someone who is keen, who is putting himself out there. What is not to like about that?"

Now it's easy to compare and contrast individuals and trends to support an argument, but if our increasingly sedentary social-media focused lifestyles are taking a toll on us physically and even mentally, then we could do worse than follow those who managed to balance life well enough to make it to their ninth decade, or beyond!

That's it for 2016. Until next year, keep agile!

Agile Ageing Alliance: Connecting digital and social innovators in an ageing society

www.agileageing.eu info@agileageing.com @AgileAgeing #AgileAgeingRoadshow

Image used with permission.