July’s most popular stories had a truly international feel. This month’s digest features an Australian centenarian ballet dancer, advice from the U.S. on living in place and a record breaking rally driver from Ireland.
Head to the barre
We begin with this inspiring story about 102-year-old dancer and artist Eileen Kramer. Right now, she is working on a ballet in which she plans to perform, is the ambassador for the Arts Health Institute, has appeared in music videos, and collaborates on fashion projects.
According to the article’s author Fiona Smith; "Kramer is one of a growing number of older Australians who have decided to do ageing differently, busting through the stereotypes that say that people retire, apply for a pension, downsize to an apartment, then move to a retirement village to play cards, and then shuffle off to a nursing home to quietly die”.
Read the article in full, as it reveals the challenges facing older adults seeking work, the negative perceptions of ageing (including from older adults themselves), and the results of a three-month fact-finding trip around Australia by The Ageing Revolution.
But what shines through is the power of creativity to keep us connected to the world around us, and indeed ourselves. In Kramer's own words: “If you are doing creative work, you are absolutely ageless. There is no such thing as age in creativity. It is always something new”.
Back on track
Kramer wasn't the only inspiring older adult we met this month. 79-year-old former rally driver Rosemary Smith recently helped the Renault Sport Formula One Team celebrate their 40th anniversary by sitting behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car to become the oldest adult to drive an 800bhp F1 car.
According to this article, the former seamstress; "has competed in some of the most iconic rallies around the world, taking home many trophies despite disqualifications and people looking to hold her back in the notoriously male-dominated sport".
The accompanying short film is goose-bump inducing, drawing on the grainy footage of Smith’s trophy-laden past. And it proves that as exciting as innovations are, you can't replace the weight of history. And as more brands like Renault reach milestones, we're sure to see more tapping into their past to stand out from one another - leading to more stars like Smith stepping back into the limelight.
Ageing behind bars
Not all this month's most read articles were positive however. This one from The Guardian's Amelia Hill, the journalist who launched the excellent ‘new retirement' series earlier this year, revealed the reality of ageing in prison.
Hill wrote; "In the last 15 years, the number of prisoners over the age of 60 has tripled. The rate of octogenarians serving time has almost doubled in the last two years, and there are now a dozen inmates in their 90s. There’s even one of 101". And more startling still; "prisons are now the UK’s largest provider of residential care for frail, elderly men".
The challenges for the future of our prison population are many. The design of the buildings doesn't allow for wheelchairs, showers become inaccessible and leaving a cell for even limited times becomes harder.
As the article details, the issue is understandably complex. But as more inmates reach older age, developing conditions like dementia, then it will continue to worsen unless future prisons are designed with this in mind. Whatever happens, we are sure to hear more of the challenges faced by older adults in our aged institutions.
And now for the other most clicked stories from this month. The first came courtesy of Marla Beck, who wrote in Seattle Living about how to age in place by downsizing your home. Unsurprisingly, this story from Honour Whiteman in Medical News Today also caught people's attention, when she wrote about a recent review suggesting chocolate may improve cognitive function within hours. And this new report also proved popular – ‘Overcoming the barriers to a better later life’ - courtesy of authors Amelia Christie and Adrian McDowell in Independent Age. Be sure to check them out as they have a wealth of insightful content.
But if all that’s not enough for you, please do take a moment to investigate Shirley Ayres' book ‘The Click Guide to Ageing Well’, which brings together ‘the best online resources for the many organisations working in the ageing sector’. And last but certainly not least, read Sara McKee of the wonderful Evermore’s guest blog ‘Older Age Care: It’s time for an intervention’. You can find it here with the rest of our work as Creative Skills for Life – helping those with life-limiting and long-term conditions live a fuller life.
That's it, until next month be agile!
Agile Ageing Alliance: Connecting digital and social innovators in an ageing society
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Image used with permission: Copyright