Well 2018 is off to a flying start at the Agile Ageing Alliance. Last week we joined forces with Innovate UK and Enterprise Europe Network to bring together a fantastic group of like-minded cross-sector stakeholders with a view to rethinking the very notion of work life and retirement.
The event took place in Brussels, with around 80 multi-disciplinary participants battling it out to win a share of 25 million Euros which the European Commission has allocated to explore new concepts designed to help older adults stay in work for longer.
Watch this space for a roundup of the event. For now, let’s take few moments to look through some of the best stories from around the globe which address work and meaning of life in an ageing society. Enjoy.
We kick-off with this great piece from the News Observer about the need for a strategic response to the US’ ageing workforce. It focuses on the work of a new commission between think tank New America and Bloomberg Philanthropies called “Shift: The Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology.”
After working with leaders from business, academia, policy and technology, and canvassing opinion from workers, the commission found that our ability to respond to the inevitable changes in the economy relies "on strong public and private leadership and intentional planning and action at the community level". What’s more, there is a "need to invest in education and retraining to help society find new pathways to stable work or realize the entrepreneurial benefits of risks taken".
With more of us predicted to work freelance in the 'gig economy', the report argues for a more flexible system where our benefits travel with us, that helps us find work more easily, and has community networks to promote our skills and leverage relationships. To make all this happen however, local and state leadership is required.
Developing local solutions to a global issue – imagined in workshops like ours in Brussels – is a positive step toward realising this challenge. So again, we look forward to sharing our findings and beginning to build a more flexible working environment for us all.
The benefits are not just economic, however. According to this next article from NBC News, having a purpose in life can help you live longer.
The Power of Purpose
AAA Founder Ian Spero wrote an interesting article about the value of meaning in life recently. A new study from Washington University, reiterates this revealing that; "People with a greater sense of purpose tend to engage in healthier lifestyle behaviors, ranging from eating their veggies, to getting more exercise and even flossing their teeth (a good proxy for other healthy behaviors)".
This purpose can be any number of things, but according to research lead Patrick Hill; "It is the notion that you have daily activities you find meaningful or engaging and that give you direction for your life, reasons to continue going".
Work, of course, won’t be everyone’s motivating factor for jumping out of bed every day. But having that option taken away through businesses failing to adapt to changing workforces, opportunities missed through retraining, or not making products or services for older adults beyond Saga holidays should not be allowed to continue.
It is for this reason we believe more people should be empowered to work for longer if they so choose. With a continued sense of purpose, you make better decisions such as the food you eat or exercising more. As the article says; “people who have a sense of purpose… bounce back from setbacks faster and are motivated to get back to doing the things that give their lives meaning”.
You’re Worth It
Another way we might make ageing easier on ourselves is to simply view it through a more positive prism. This fascinating article from Psychology Today caught our eye as it suggests that preconceived notions we may have about ageing from our youth, can impose negative stereotypes that surface later on in life.
Apparently, these notions begin when we hear people talking negatively about older people or being dismissive of their role in society. As you then age yourself, these stereotypes return and manifest themselves in how you view and treat yourself.
According to the article; “Feelings of worthlessness, irrelevance or being a burden may also appear, right on schedule, to align with the ideas in your subconscious time capsule”.
The solution (and this is something we most certainly endorse), is to ‘flout’ these notions like American painter Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses, who the article continues, “is said to have produced some 1,500 paintings in the three decades before her death at age 101”.
Open your mind and you can subvert the mental and physical impact of entering a new phase of life. If you do, concludes the article; “Your brain, and possibly your body, will thank you”.
Let’s be grateful for the likes of icons like Sir David Attenborough who exemplifies the idea of making the most of our lives. Interviewed by The Telegraph about his continued popularity and inspiring creative output, he (now aged 91) promised to continue working until his body no longer supports it. Let’s hope that’s for many more years to come as he may be an essential role model according to this popular article from Reuters.
The article suggests that; “Children and teens who spend a lot of time with their grandparents may be less likely than peers who don’t to have negative and stereotypical ideas about the elderly”. It may seem obvious, but if anything is revealed from this (and indeed our own) research, it’s that sometimes we need reminding youth is not the be all and end all.
And so, fittingly we round our digest off with this story by Adrienne Ione writing for the Seattle Times saying “Don’t patronize older adults by calling them ‘the elderly’”. Adrienne writes; “Careless use of the term “the elderly” can become a knife that cuts lines of love between people. The late, great artist and singer Nina Simone cautioned, “You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served”.
That’s it for this month. If you have missed our events you can tune into The Wireless from Age UK at 6pm on Wednesday 7th February and hear Ian Spero being interviewed on ‘Agenda with Martyn Lewis’. If you are attending the Ageing FIT event in Nice, you can catch Ian moderating the finance session and participating in the plenary debate during the morning of 6th February. Be sure to keep an eye out for all the gossip from Nice and our recent Brussels extravaganza, and if you haven’t already, follow us on twitter where we share all the best stories on ageing.
Until next month, #BeAgile!
Image used with permission. Copyright: Bloodua.