After a short summer break we're back with the latest AAA news review. A quick look at some of the month’s best stories about ageing from around the world, including a powerlifting academic, ageist watches and an octogenarian Instagram star.
We begin with this thoughtful piece in Stuff, about ageism being not just a prejudice against others, but also ourselves.
Author Rob Stock argues that as we humans evolved to believe that life was short, making us focus on day to day survival, we now find it hard to rewire our thinking to plan for a life of a possible eight decades - or more. According to psychologist Nigel Latta, Rob adds; "What our brains do is tell us: 'Don't worry, that's never going to happen with you. The future me isn't me, because I will never be old.'"
It isn't all in our heads though. Culturally, if we live in a society where generations don't live or work together, we can fall into a tribal mentality (another evolutionary theory) where we can't connect with people we don't 'recognise'.
The answer is clear. We must spend more time visualising our potential longer lives, spend more time in multi-generational groups and promote mixed-generational workforces. It’s all well and good commenting on others’ longer lives, but if the person in the mirror one day looks like a stranger then you’ve only yourself to blame.
Even our mobile devices are trying to tell us, it seems…
This piece (or rant as its author Laurie Orlov puts it), in the highly useful Aging in Place Technology Watch blog, revealed how the default settings in the new Apple Watch accidentally proves its maker’s (median employee age 31) view of older people.
Laurie highlights the fact the Series 4 watch has fall detection. Quite useful if you decide to use it. But if Apple Watch knows you are 65+ it makes that decision for you by automatically turning it on. Important to know if you rather it didn’t suggest you call the emergency services any time you’re doing any high impact activities.
Since 65+ men are the most generous buyers of Apple products - according to this 2015 study - then we must guess, according to Laurie, "...they did not read last year’s Stanford study basing old age on the small statistical risk of dying within 1 year (answer: old for men = age 70+, 73 for women)".
It seems a small point. But if one of the world's most powerful companies, with access to many parts of our lives, is deciding when we need protecting, then perhaps they need more older employees to prove 65 isn’t what it used to be.
One barrier to making that happen however, is how an older person views their own chances of working in Silicon Valley. With many reports saying the industry is ageist, this article from CNBC went some way to putting their mind at ease, stating that even though ageism does exist, there are still opportunities – particularly if you don’t mind the odd night out or ping pong.
Said Amazon employee Frederic Jean; "Yes, there is a lot of ageism in this industry. But there are many companies of all size that recognize how potent the combination of talent and experience can be. The good news is that companies that recognize it are also companies where grown-ups tend to come to, which is a good thing”.
Added Microsoft employee Arya Afrashteh; “No you are not too old to work at those places at 35. You'll be fine at 35. You'll probably be fine all the way to 60 working at those companies. You can work anywhere at anytime at any age (though you may have to deal with a bit of ageism). Just stay healthy, learn stuff and find someone to settle down with. That's pretty much life”.
If the rest of society is a gauge for our ability to make these changes happen, then we only need look at these headline-grabbing women to see just how much attitudes are changing to ageing.
We kick off with Dr Catherine Walter, an Oxford academic who became a champion powerlifter aged 71. After hearing that resistance exercise (lifting heavy weights) was the only way to stop the inevitable muscle deterioration everyone gets after 40, she decided to take up the sport.
"At school I was 'not good at sports'", said Dr Walter. "It just took me 65 years to find the sport I was good at". Apart from the fact she now holds all world records in her classification she is proud as she is proving that “older people can be strong”.
And social media stars if this style icon is anything to go by. Aged 80, Eileen Smith has amassed a 50K strong following on Instagram (35K at the time the article was written mere days ago!).
Known as Eileen Style Queen, she started sharing pictures with her daughter to stay connected and thanks to her encouragement, now has thousands of followers - mostly aged between 18 and 27. So it just goes to show, style never goes out of fashion.
Quite literally in this case as we meet Daphne Selfe – an inspiring woman who began her modelling career back in 1949. After stepping out of the spotlight back in the 60s, she made her comeback aged 70 when invited to model for London Fashion Week. That was 20 years ago.
According to the article; "Since signing with the esteemed London agency, Daphne has enjoyed some of the most high-profile jobs of her career. She's modelled for brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, has changed perceptions of what it means to look like a model, and has started conversations around ageing". On the secret of her longevity, says Daphne; “Eat well and smile – a smile is as good as a facelift”.
Well that’s it for now. The AAA team are hard at work preparing the second edition of our Neighbourhoods of the Future white paper which will be published later this year. So, until our next update be sure to keep smiling, follow us on Twitter and #BeAgile!
Image used under fair use. Copyright Eileen Smith via Instagram.