This month’s AAA news 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.
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.
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, until next month stay agile!
Agile Ageing Alliance: Connecting digital and social innovators in an ageing society
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Image used with permission: Copyright