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AAA™ In the news July 2018 – Let’s Think Big

For those unable to join us at last month's AAA Congress, here is a snapshot of some of the brilliant ideas and outcomes of the day. We shot over 100 hours of footage, so squeezing that into five minutes wasn't easy, but it certainly gives you a flavour. In summary, we determined it’s time to THINK BIG!

In other news, AAA was invited to Washington, DC, to an enthralling event run by the German Marshall Fund. It was a transatlantic dialogue focused on the ‘Future of Multi-generational Housing in Existing Communities’, and we look forward to sharing its outcomes soon.

Now we turn to the best stories in the world of agile ageing, featuring design icons, ‘grey’ spending power and the benefit of staying ageless.

Who's Listening?

We kick off with this article from CNBC, a call for tech companies to 'add a little grey hair to their workforce'.

The piece revealed that although older adults are using the products tech companies make - Amazon's Alexa being a popular one - not enough is being done to harness the experience of older adults.

Made for mass market, products are still being created with millennials in mind. But innovations like voice control, the author argues, have a truly democratising effect on older tech users.

Veteran tech worker Michael Skaff said; “People who never got comfortable with smartphones may find it easier to converse with a voice assistant. It's also a promising technology for people with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments or motion disorders who struggle with visual interfaces”.

Some industries like manufacturing are taking steps to better incorporate older workers, but often due to the fact they have valuable knowledge to pass on and there being a shortfall of younger workers joining the industry.

But with the tech industry thriving off a younger workforce (Apple's median age is 31), then surely it will be the company that best understands the needs of older (and wealthier) consumers that wins.

Money Talks

What no one can ignore is that by 2050 one in six of us is predicted to be aged over 65, meaning that where older adults spend their money will dictate the products tech companies (and others) need to make.

This spending power is the focus of the 15th and final article by The Milken Institute in their 'Silver to Gold: The Business of Aging' series, featured in Forbes' Next Avenue.

The article focuses on what they call the longevity dividend - the potential for older adults to live, work and add to economies for longer.

"Longevity isn’t really about 'ageing'," they write. "In fact, it's the reverse of ageing - it's about being younger for longer. As we live longer, mortality rates decline so that in some sense 70 becomes the new 60 - 70-year-olds today have the mortality rates of past 60-year-olds".

The answer, they argue, is to "shift our economy to enable more people to work longer" and the economic argument is strong. For every increase in working age by one year, the UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is predicted to grow by 1%.

We hear a lot of doom and gloom about ageing - ‘the silver tsunami’ - a subject AAA’s Ian Spero has written about previously. But with reports about the potential benefits of an ageing society growing all the time, we are sure the old way of viewing ageing is being consigned to history.

Ageless Employees

How things have been done in the past is being challenged daily by a new generation with the means to have their voice heard. Journalist Gaby Hinsliff wrote an interesting article on this through the lens of singer Kylie Minogue turning 50, arguing you must keep up with the next generation as you age.

We won't all be able to look like Kylie, or other stars with a retinue of assistants, but we can hold on to the best bits of youth by staying open minded.

No place is this more necessary than the workplace. Once you have decided you know what's what, Gaby argues, then the only way is obsolesce. Our very own Professor Heinz Wolff was a great example for eternal youth. He stayed curious all his life and it meant anyone could relate to him because he was always seeking answers.

Hinsliff writes; “There’s a fine line between thinking young and sounding ridiculous, and risking becoming intellectual mutton dressed as lamb. But once workplace culture is routinely being set by people half your age, it’s professionally dangerous to fall too far behind. The reverse mentoring schemes adopted by some employers, in which grizzled senior staff are given insights by twentysomethings into how younger people think and behave, are a tactful recognition of that risk”.

Such recognition must surely strengthen the relationship across the generations. If everyone knows they have a part to play, but that no one knows all the answers, then together we can all seek them. Idealism perhaps, but if the alternative is being out of work, then it’s a mindset worth having.

Ageless Friendships

The benefits of bridging the age gap is the subject of our final, and rather heart-warming piece.

With modern life making it harder for young and old to meet, and even harder to become good friends, author Deborah Linton interviewed people who have done just that and are reaping the rewards.

Amongst others, we meet Audrey, 53, and Donna, 74, who met at a singing group Audrey was running. According to Donna; "Without Audrey I might be housebound. I think of her as my next-of-kin. Her friendship means the world to me. My peers are dying and sometimes, at my age, it can feel there is nothing to look forward to. Audrey keeps me in the queue to live".

We also meet Sian, 37, and Dilys, 85 who met at an event called Superwoman and went on to do a skydive together – at Dilys’ request.

They’re the kind of stories that give us hope for the future. If we are indeed living in an age of loneliness, then the more we can promote the power of such friendships and make them the norm, the better.

So that's all for this month, until the next be sure to follow AAA on twitter and #BeAgile!

Image used with permission; by Foto Sushi.