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AAA™ In the News November 2018 – Why retire?

We had anticipated bringing you news of the AAA Tata Steel Industrial Strategy Fund expression of interest. Well, we are still on the short list and hoping to share good news before too long. Meanwhile the second Neighbourhoods of the Future white paper is taking great shape. Further detail next month; we will publish in January.

Looking at the bigger picture, sustainability and the use of natural resources is a global concern. So, in this month’s news review we focus on one of the few resources that’s actually increasing – older adults. We bring you stories about a record-breaking barber, the power of photography and the biggest topic of all – the future of our planet.

Look Sharp

AAA loves the number of records being either set or smashed by older adults, not just living longer but thriving as they do.

This month it's the turn of the world's oldest barber - Italian-born New Yorker, Anthony Mancinelli, who is still cutting hair nearly 100 years after he started. Now aged 107, Mr Mancinelli began in the 1920s when a haircut cost just 25 cents (they now cost $19).

On his fame, current employer Jane Dinezza said; “People come in and they flip out when they find out how old he is. Now I feel like I’m working for him. I get a million and one phone calls from people all over the world who have heard about him and want to visit”.

What's more, neither his age or lifetime of work seem to have slowed him down as, according to Jane; “He never calls in sick. I have young people with knee and back problems, but he just keeps going. He can do more haircuts than a 20-year-old kid. They’re sitting there looking at their phones, texting or whatever, and he’s working”.

Genes may well play a big part in Mr Mancinelli's longevity but respecting your body and having a purpose must surely play a part too. So keep turning up to do whatever it is you love, and who knows, you may be setting records of your own.

Get the Picture

The article's image of Mr Mancinnelli hard at work drew into focus our next piece from QZwhich talks about the imagery we normally see of older adults, specifically when it comes to work. In it, author Jessica Orkin explains that companies have a lot of work to do to help society's perception of ageing catch up with its realities.

Search online for images of older adults (something we do a fair bit ourselves) and usually you get the same type of image; "...wrinkled white people wearing pastel cardigans and hanging out with—you guessed it—other old people", writes Jessica. 

"Even more bizarrely", she continues, "a number of the images feature silver-haired people grinning wildly and giving a thumbs-up. ‘Old people’ as portrayed in popular internet search results are almost never at work, which flies in the face of actual workplace demographics".

The facts bear the point. According to Pew Research, she reveals; "As of last year, almost 20% of Americans aged 65 and older have continued to work—up from 12% in 1990".

So yes, our work places are changing, but if you look on corporate websites or marketing literature you might not know that. And if that's the image they're presenting to the world, and indeed potential employees, then stereotypes are being perpetuated that are just plain wrong.

The risk to business isn't just a perception issue, but financial. They are missing out on a valuable resource that is only going to increase. So, ignore older adults at your peril, and certainly when talking about the biggest question of all - the future of our planet.

Sustaining Older Adults

When it comes to discussing the environment - as evidenced when the UN met to review the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 - among 17 goals and 169 targets, older people are acknowledged only twice. And even then, only marginally as if an afterthought.

This is wrong, says the author of our next article, Odile Robotti. "Aging", she writes, "has deeply changed in the last 50 years, but our view of it lags behind. Older people can be a resource for society and already are strongly contributing to sustainable development and poverty eradication. They are often the ones who care for the sick and the children, and who work or use their savings to support extended families".

It is a rapidly growing group who can play a huge part in preserving the planet. As Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center for Longevity, pointed out, "older adults are the only natural resource that is increasing on our planet".

With populations ageing globally, it is a huge section of our society that is ignored at our cost. We (really aren't) getting any younger and if humanity has a chance of keeping our planet habitable then, as she writes, "[it] needs all the help it can get".

In Other News

So what else has been happening around the world? Let’s take a quick look at some of the other great stories that captured our imagination this month, starting with this piece in the Guardian bringing together a number of examples of age-friendly cities from around the world to see what our future may look like.

Says Prof Chris Phillipson, of Manchester University’s Institute for Collaborative Research in Ageing; "New approaches are needed which link the advantages of living in cities with the needs and aspirations of older people themselves". Well worth a read.

Next, we focus on tech in this piece from Senior Housing News, which reveals how one not-for-profit senior living provider in Pensylvania, U.S. plans to open "dozens of new town home-style independent living residences, each equipped with technological and design features meant to help older adults live in the setting longer".

And we conclude with a second Guardian piece, this one listing six ways in which older adults can have a happy retirement. Why? Because, as the article explains, retiring is not what it used to be. "There’s greater uncertainty about the future and more choice about when and how to retire – or, indeed, whether to retire at all"!

So that's it for this month, until the next, make sure to follow us on Twitter and #BeAgile.

Image used with permission. Copyright Caio Resende.