May is proving to be rather busy in the world of Agile Ageing, so before we review this month’s best stories we'd like to share three special events we think will be of interest.
Firstly, we are inviting fresh thinkers to join forces with AAA and our ‘who’s who’ of agile ageing luminaries, when we meet on May 9-10th at the Neighbourhoods of the Future congress in London, sponsored by Tata Steel and NatWest.
Having submitted a £60 million 'Expression of Interest' to the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Wave 3, in partnership with Tata Steel, challenge organisers UK Research and Industry (UKRI), are allowing us to recruit additional partners.
Ian Spero outlines the importance of this congress in his latest blog Seize the Opportunity to Improve the Quality of Lives Lived Longer, as well as the notable names already in attendance. If you would like to join us, you can see the agenda and register here.
A Grand Challenge
Next, Knowledge Transfer Network are looking for innovators from the health sector to help drive the UK’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge. The Healthy Ageing Grand Challenge is supported by the Healthy Ageing Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which has set aside £98 million to drive development of new solutions that will help people live in their homes for longer and increase their independence and wellbeing.
Innovators from the health sector are invited to register their interest in attending the ISCF Healthy Ageing Pre-Competition Briefing in Birmingham on May 2nd (register here). Delegates will be able to learn more about the Challenge and will have the opportunity to form consortia to work on a bid. You can find out more about the ISCF Healthy Ageing Grand Challenge here.
And finally, on May 3rd the winners of the first European Silver Economy Awards will be announced in Brussels. If you aren’t able to be there, don’t worry. From 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM (Brussels' time), the event will be webstreamed through this link. You can even use Twitter and the #SilverCeremony2018 to ask questions to the speakers. You can find a detailed agenda here.
And now to our review of the best stories in the world of Agile Ageing, featuring a movie star, a new fashion icon and the wisdom of aging.
Tough Guy Talk
We begin with Chuck Norris, yes that Chuck Norris. The action movie legend, now 78, has written with great passion about a revolutionary, grass-roots movement called ‘New Age Villages’ cropping up in the US.
According to Chuck these villages occur when; “Older members of a neighborhood or group of neighborhoods are linked with one another as well as with a network of volunteer and paid services” - and their benefits are many. Not only do they allow older adults to age in place for longer, something many surveyed in the US want, but they also help combat ageism through greater societal integration, and critically, loneliness.
Chuck continues; “Many experts believe that a loneliness epidemic is developing in the United States, and the U.S. should consider following Britain's lead in making loneliness a public-health priority”.
It’s an incredibly thoughtful piece made even more powerful as it comes from someone who has committed their life to maximising the potential of our powers and inspiring others to do the same. In his own words; “The end of life is a nonnegotiable thing. What we cannot lose sight of is that the quality and exact length of that life is something we very much have the power to shape”. A real tough guy.
Style Never Goes Out of Fashion
Choosing how we age isn’t just about where we do it, but how we do it. This article from the Independent proved as much by introducing us to Suzi Grant, a woman most certainly ageing on her own terms. Thanks to her love of fashion and obvious lust for life, the 68-year-old fashion leader has used social media to build a devoted online following (12k Instagram followers and counting).
Inspired by a documentary about a photographer who pictured glamorous women around the world, she started her own blog which she says is a “mix of fashion, food and lifestyle where I encourage like-minded women to be the very best they can be, looking good but feeling great!"
Having felt marginalised as a woman in her 50s, she felt her confidence soar in her 60s thanks in part to the response to her blog and what she saw as the growing popularity of grey hair. Today, Suzi says; “I no longer feel invisible, as I did at 50, and nor should you, so I want to share with you all I’ve learned over the years so you too can grab life by the balls and enjoy it as much as I do!”.
We could talk at length about the impact social media has on the young as they seek an identity. But it seems there is a huge opportunity for older adults who have lived long enough to see its opportunities and challenges in equal measure to find an audience in later life. Let Suzi be our guide!
Turning Silver into Gold
We can’t all be social media stars however. Many simply want the choice to stay in work for as long as they can - a subject explored by Ruth Finkelstein in Forbes this month, one in a series of articles from the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging series, The Business of Aging.
In this week’s article, Ruth argues that work as we know it has to change. For example, existing regulatory frameworks do not address the seismic shifts we are experiencing due to our changing life expectancy. She writes; “Most of the existing legal framework in the U.S. developed when life expectancy (and health expectancy) was 20 to 30 years shorter”.
The benefits of modernising how we work and capitalising on our ageing workforce are many. Ruth continues; “In the U.S., there are currently skill shortages in specific industries and regions. Employers who develop active mentoring programs, pair older and younger workers on jobs and creatively restructure jobs can ameliorate these shortages while preparing a new generation of skilled workers”.
Every industry, and every company will have to address this issue because it will affect us all. Customers will need to be part of a service or product’s production in some way, or surely the connection between the two will fail? Only time will tell.
News in Brief
With so many great stories this month we summarize here the best of the rest. We kick off with this article from CBS Insights about the 10 anti-ageing startups to watch. Although not a term we would use ourselves – we celebrate ageing after all – it’s essential to see where big players like Google are investing their money. Certainly worth a read.
Next we move on to this article from Kaiser Health in which author Judith Graham interviews Dr. Marc Agronin about tapping into the wisdom of ageing, and the often overlooked potential for older adults to rise to difficult challenges while demonstrating their adaptability and resourcefulness. Inspiring and comforting.
And we conclude with this article from The Week in which author Eric Barker states that a lot of what we think we know about ageing is wrong. In his own words; “We have a lot to learn about getting older. And, more importantly, a lot to learn from older people. Remember: They've been your age — you haven't been theirs”. Too true.
And so, with that nugget of truth we conclude this month’s news review. It’s been a bumper edition so plenty to keep you going until next month’s. Until then, be sure to follow us on twitter and #BeAgile!
Picture used with permission. Copyright Sean Stratton.