“Business as usual will not deliver a new paradigm for agile ageing; we really do need a revolution”.
This was the consensus from 2018’s Neighbourhoods of the Future Congress, hosted by NatWest and supported by Tata Steel. You can learn more of its findings in Ian Spero's latest article (Housebuilders are Holding the Country to Ransom) where you’ll also find an invite to add your ideas for revolutionary, risky collaborative projects to our Tata / AAA consortia.
Before you do, we look at the best stories from this month in the world of ageing, featuring robots, u-shaped lives and evergreen athletes.
We see many stories about the challenges and opportunities of an ageing workforce. One that gets only a little airtime however, is how using the right language around it will ensure our minds are open.
The title of this article in Bloomberg is a perfect example - Forget New Robots. Keep Your Eye on the Old People. Even while promoting the need for more older adults in the workplace, it leans on - ironically enough - an aged term to draw us in.
It seems rather apt as the author argues that; “More elderly workers will force many people to confront their biases, fears and prejudices, probably leading to a bigger cultural clash than that with the machines” - namely robots in the workplace.
It’s worth a read as Bloomberg want us to consider how we are going to redefine the workplace considering automation in an ageing society. But to be positive about the benefits of older workers, we are adamant we must be positive with our language too if we are to stand a chance.
Happiness is U-Shaped
Another way to promote the positive impact of older adults in the workplace is the chance it may increase the overall level of happiness.
This article in the Guardian looked at a book by Jonathan Rauch which combines personal experience and research to promote the idea that happiness in our lifetime is U-shaped. It is a curve, the article explains, in which “life satisfaction falls in our 20s and 30s, then hits a trough in our late 40s before increasing until our 80s”.
Jonathan says: “There’s a huge amount of untapped wisdom and potential to be unlocked. Because of the happiness curve, [they’re] often in a position where they want to give back. They want to be mentors, they want to be volunteers and they want to work at not so difficult jobs which allow them to use their skills.”
Imagine being offered a job because you not only had the skills to carry it out, but because your employer knew your presence would have a positive impact on everyone else’s happiness? Surely a great motivator to get you out of bed every morning.
Imagine if your motivation for getting out of bed was to continue dominating a sport, when most would expect you to retire? In this article in the NY Times, we learnt how more athletes are doing just that - performing at the highest level well beyond ‘retirement’.
The article’s author interviews journalist Jeff Bercovici, author of “Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age”, who reveals that a better understanding of our ageing bodies is allowing American Football players to keep winning Super Bowls, runners to win marathons and tennis players to win Grand Slams.
Granted these are physically remarkable people to begin with, but what stood out was the older you are, the better you get at training ‘efficiently’ (not trying to be the biggest or fastest), and the better you are responding to the ups and down of sports.
According to Bercovici; “Older athletes are better able to keep strong, unwanted thoughts and emotions from affecting their performance”. This maturity, it seems, is a skill in itself and is something that comes naturally to older athletes.
Whether the sporting elite’s training methods inspire more of us to be fitter for longer remains to be seen, but what we do know is the athletes we watch will continue growing older with every generation.
Now we conclude this month’s news with a whistle stop tour through some of the other great stories from this month.
In this article from AARP, we learnt that “Student designers from Virginia Tech have devised an ageing-friendly bicycle designed to protect older cyclists from accidents, and even to call for help if they need it”. Considering studies have shown that pro-cyclists live on average eight years longer than most of us, this may be a little more palatable than the high-intensity workouts of the pro athletes.
If cycling seems a little too risky however, this feel-good story may be more suited, about an initiative bringing older, lonely people together through the power of dog walking. It may seem a simple story considering some of the wide-reaching projects we cover, but considering we now live in the age of loneliness, the more stories we see like this, the better.
If all this talk about exercise has left you feeling a little out of breath, then why not think about where you rest? We finish this month’s news with an interesting piece from the Telegraph which revealed the over 60s are ‘jumping off the property ladder’, swapping their homes for rental properties instead. According to former newsreader Sir Martyn Lewis, “It was a terrific decision for us. With the reduction in prices we can cover the rent for quite a while and wait before buying our next home”. Maybe an Englishman’s home won’t be his castle in the future, but instead an AirBnB?
That’s it for this month, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and keep your eye out for more outcomes from NOTF 2018. #BeAgile!