How do you start a revolution? In our case, you call together the best thinkers to tackle what a recent WHO survey revealed as the most pressing issue for older adults and community leaders worldwide: Housing.
Taking place May 9-10th at NatWest’s London HQ, Neighbourhoods of the Future 2 will unite like-minded decision makers and thought leaders to transcend common barriers to progress.
The think tank is by invitation only, and we’re encouraging ‘unusual suspects’ to apply. Learn more about the event and how to apply in Ian Spero’s latest blog.
You can also learn about WHO’s response to the housing issue, here. According to Alana Officer, who leads their Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities, they are calling for housing practices proven to foster healthy and active ageing. They hope to take the best of what they receive from cities and communities and share them with other cities and communities.
First however, enjoy this month’s collection of the best stories from the world of ageing, including a new world record, the future of advertising and perhaps our favourite ‘ageing’ country - Japan.
We kick off with this great new ad campaign for Amplifon hearing aids. That might not sound exciting, but its maker LOLA MullenLowe is challenging outdated perceptions of ageing by asking whether the ad’s protagonist (a suave, active older man) is ‘Old or Not Old?’
The ad pulls no punches. Our hero has a hip replacement, lags behind his grandchildren and as we later discover, wears a hearing aid. But it’s his attitude that drives the ad. He’s fully engaged with life, chooses not to drive for environmental reasons, and still has ‘flow’.
According to this article on LLB Online, the ad’s message is “not only aimed at Amplifon clients and [a] new generation of older people, but society itself, since it presents old age as a stage in life to continue being active and doing the things we love”.
Executive Creative Directors of LOLA MullenLowe Barcelona, Nacho Oñate and Nestor Garcia said the campaign “aims to give our fathers and mothers the place they deserve within society, but also so that all of us who have not yet reached that point in our lives, begin to imagine our future from a different perspective”.
We anticipate more great, provocative ads like this. Ones taking societal norms head on with wit and candour. Because, as the article says; “people live an average of 34 years more than previous generations”. That’s a lot of customers!
Young At Heart
Another industry sure to redefine its prospect is fitness targeted specifically at older adults. With growing evidence on its importance, such as this two-year US study on the impact of exercise on ageing hearts, more companies will no doubt look to promote the benefits of using exercises tailored to our ageing bodies.
According to study lead Dr Ben Levine, they divided its 45+ year old participants into two groups - one doing non-aerobic exercise three days a week, and the other doing high-intensity (interval) exercise for four or more days. The results, according to Levine, were ‘dramatic’. “We took these 50-year-old hearts and turned the clock back to 30- or 35-year-old hearts”, he said.
Interval training, explains the NPR article covering the study, is “4 minutes of intense workout and 3 minutes of recovery [and] was found to be particularly effective as it forces the heart to function more efficiently”.
"The sweet spot in life to get off the couch and start exercising [if you haven't already]” continues Levine, “is in late middle age when the heart still has plasticity. You may not be able to reverse the aging of the vessels if you wait”.
A big part of our work is changing perceptions of what is possible in later life. Studies like this prove that we still have so much to learn. But if the thought of interval training to shave years off your heart health sounds a little arduous, then why not take inspiration from this amateur swimmer who just shaved 35 seconds off a world record, aged 99?
History in the Making
After taking up swimming again in his 80’s (having stopped at the outbreak of WWII), Australian George Corones has just smashed the 50m freestyle world record in the 100-104 age category.
Speaking to the BBC, a modest George said; "It was an exemplary swim for me, well balanced... and I was ready to hit the [wall] at the end very hard with my hand".
It’s clear having a particular mindset will help you achieve such a feat, but his was not the conditioned body of a lifelong athlete. This is a man who realised being active was the best way to continue enjoying life, and now he’s a world record holder!
In his own words; “At this age it takes a while to get going... you get exhausted much more easily, but if you do it sensibly, the rewards are astronomical". A longer, healthier life certainly sounds rewarding enough.
Aside from age-defying physical feats, there have been many other great stories that caught our eye this month. Here’s a quick run-down of the most popular.
First up is this interesting piece by Ken Bluestone, a director of CommonAge and head of policy for Age International. Writing in the Guardian, he warns there is a significant demographic change coming across the Commonwealth that is being ignored. It is that “the absolute size of the older population will increase by at least 100% in the next 25 years”, and the “fastest growing segment of the population is the oldest old – those aged 80 and over”.
Each country’s experience will of course vary, but as we know, Japan can offer the perfect case study for what they might expect.
This month’s update on the world’s ageing pioneers comes courtesy of a new two-part BBC radio show Japan: New Ways to Grow Old. It offers a charming insider’s perspective from the country’s older community on how housing, fitness, shopping and work are all changing in response to an ageing population.
The BBC is also exploring the issue a little closer to home, with the second series of Holding Back the Years. The 10 part TV series wants to help us make the most of our lives, at whatever stage that may be, by looking at housing, money, health and much more. They don’t stay on the iPlayer forever though, so don’t wait too long!
And we end with this popular article from writer Karen Dobres, asking in the Guardian ‘I’m 50. Am I too old to be a model again?’ Have a read to see if she was able to “harness her ‘grey power’ to once again make it in an industry driven by youth”.
That’s it for this month, until our next update be sure to follow us on twitter and #BeAgile
Images used with permission, Copyright Chris Barbalis via Unsplash.