AAA™: In the News February 2017 – Agile’s the Word

Researching our soon-to-be-published Neighbourhoods of the Future report, in partnership with the UK's leading retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone, has revealed the huge range of organisations beginning to take ageing very seriously. Whether it be the challenges faced, or the opportunities within.

And we've kept a close eye on The Guardian's ongoing focus on retirement, as journalist Amelia Hill hears from readers what ageing and retirement means to them.

Rather than the familiar doom and gloom we often see in the press about ageing, her report is revealing the wealth of ways in which people are enjoying their retirement. Certainly, there are serious issues in need of urgent attention, but this report proves that ageing (although inevitable), can be faced with vitality, optimism and humour.

As interviewee Monica Hartwell says; "I do things now that I wouldn't have dared to do when younger, for fear of being crap at them. Now I try my hand at whatever I fancy and if I'm not as good as others, I don't care, I'm still learning."

Tech needn't be a four-letter word

Something we learned recently, is that 'an ageing population could be good for the economy'.

In contrast to the popular assumption that the reverse is true, a recent study by economists at MIT and Boston University argued that a reduction in the number of working age people will encourage companies to invest in technology, which in turn improves efficiency.

According to this analysis of the study by the World Economic Forum; "Several economists have raised the alarm that an older population will slow growth due to lower productivity, less labor force participation, and less investment growth. The economists hypothesize that as populations age businesses are more likely to adopt technology that helps boost productivity. They argue that as the population ages, the number of working-age people declines relative to demand, which in turn increases wages."

This is of a particular interest to us as the power of technology to change, well anything, is huge, as we have already seen with Uber and the taxi industry. So we would argue that employers have to focus on retaining talent, whatever their age, rather than lose their deep industry knowledge acquired over a lifetime.

Beach towels at the ready

Another technology set to have a huge impact on our society is Virtual Reality, and one individual is tapping into its potential, leading to this article on Eurogamer.net; 'Why VR might be the next weapon in the war on dementia'.

Quoted in the article is Alex Smale, the creator of a 'beach view' VR experience that can be used with the Oculus Rift headset to give users a visual and aural feast. Said Smale of his inspiration; "We had some elderly neighbours who hadn't left the house for a long time due to disability. We'd taken them back to some of their favourite holiday destinations using Street View and an iPad already, and I thought, 'wouldn't it be great if we could take them on holiday again using VR?' So I created a basic beach scene to run on the Rift for them to try."

It's well worth a read as the article goes into both the process of creating new experiences like this, and the impact it has on those using them, at the time and beyond. This is a passion project that may well go on to affect the lives of many people and so we fully support the dedication it takes for individuals to create life-changing programmes like this.

Purley's Kings and Queens

And what about those who can leave home by themselves, but are at risk of the occasional slip into uncertainty or confusion? This recent article, "Forget-me-nots in Purley: how the town became 'dementia friendly'", explained how the a small suburb in Croydon has recently become a 'safe space for people for dementia' - an idea that first began in Japan.

The project looks to first recognise there is an issue specific to the area (namely a high number of older people, potentially with dementia who might forget where they are, or say PIN numbers to their cards), then offer training to local businesses on ways to assist them, and indicate on the shop fronts they are 'dementia friendly' via a knotted red scarf symbol.

According to the article; "The Alzheimer's Society has designated 220 communities in England and Wales as dementia-friendly, aiming to reduce stigma around the disorder and improve safety and quality of life for those who experience it. The charity is campaigning for London to be the world's first "dementia-friendly capital city" by 2020, defining such a place as "a city where every person with dementia – no matter who they are or where they live – can live well and access the right support, at the right time, in the right way".

Working to build age friendly communities, neighbourhoods and homes is an intrinsic part of what we do. And the more people who understand the issues being faced, then the better we can all respond to them.

So until next month, stay agile!

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

info@agileageing.org / @AgileAgeing / #AgileAgeingRoadshow

Image used with permission: Copyright: ilterriorm / 123RF Stock Photo.