AAA™ - In the news March 2019 - Older and Wiser

Image: Frances Dunscombe by Josh Redman via BBC

As the mornings get lighter and spring edges closer, we look ahead to another exciting development - the 5th annual AAA™ Congress.

Uniting a who's who of agitators, experts and entrepreneurs, it promises to inspire even more action in reimagining our Neighbourhoods of the Future.

Generously supported by our partners and hosted once again by our friends Natwest at their City of London HQ, the Congress takes place on May 14 & 15th. If you think you have something special to offer then you can register interest here, where you can also learn about previous AAA events and activity.

Before you do, however, take a moment to catch up with this month's best news pieces from the world of ageing. Enjoy!

Calling All Homers

We kick off with an article from Forbes about a new book on the growing number of boomer entrepreneurs. Called 'Paycheck And A Purpose', the book’s author Chris Farrell highlights the fact that 'a quarter of new businesses in the U.S. are now founded by people in the 55-to-64-year-old age group'.

The reasons are many. Not only are we living longer, but we’re living better. What’s more, boomers have built networks they can tap into to help start their business, they have the finances to support their ideas, can easily access technology to help make it a reality and live in an age where it’s OK to work with different generations.

Says Farrell; “I would never have dreamt of working with my Dad. But if my son asked me to join him in a new business, I’d leap at the chance”.

But what if you're not an entrepreneur? Are there still opportunities to continue working as you age, or start again? Only if more business managers keep up with these changes.

He explains; “Senior managers are not Dr Spock but more likely to be Homer Simpson – they don’t change their prejudices until forced to do so. They are soon going to be forced to do so”.

One way we know to encourage people to open their minds to the benefits of a more diverse workforce is to focus on the evidence. To let the facts speaks for themselves. Our next article is a great example of this - what happened when author and endurance athlete Roy Wallack challenged his dad to a fitness test.

Hit the Gym

In this piece for the LA Times, Roy writes about his efforts to reverse the visible decline he'd seen in his father, Norm, now aged 89.

He writes; “Over the last few years, [his father had] deteriorated from robust to doddering. The change was rapid and alarming. A slow 15-minute walk left him wasted. His neck and shoulders were so bent-over he appeared to be looking for coins. He seemed slower-witted too. Worst of all: placid acceptance of a future in physical decline”.

Roy’s plan? To use data to create a picture of where his father's health was today (not good), create a “personally tailored and supervised regimen of diet and exercise”, then allow him to report on the results.

Inspired by the wealth of research proving the rapid benefit exercise can offer older adults, Roy worked with a physical therapist to help create an eight-week program designed to inspire a sudden reversal of Norm's physical decline and inspire a new lifestyle to offer a long-term improved quality of life.

Despite the daunting environment of a gym full of young people who Norm observed were “...tattooed head-to-toe and look they like they just got out of prison,” Roy's dad stuck to the plan.

The results? Improved blood sugar levels, a stronger heart, improved endurance and a 9lb weight loss. Even better, Norm now felt this was something he "needed to do". A swift reversal from the belief that going to “Costco for free samples” was plenty exercise.

It's just one story of course, and benefits from the fact Roy is an athlete himself, but the fact that many aspects of our health can lie in our hands inspires us to keep sharing more stories like this to inspire others to follow suit, rather than simply let inactivity take its toll. Stay agile!

Naked Ambition

And you should stay agile because you never know what the future may bring. You might become a high-end fashion model in your 80s perhaps, like Frances Dunscombe.

Having overcome various challenges to her confidence growing up - being evacuated during the war, not having the desirable body type of the day and then workplace bullying after returning to work in her 40s, Frances found a new confidence when she realised she could cope with them all.

This new confidence was really tested however when she was asked to pose nude at the age of 82.

With the resulting photograph going on to win an award and Frances having modelled for Prada and at London Fashion Week, she has come to realise that beauty is not tied up with youth.

In her own words; “We all have something we don't like about ourselves... but there is always something you can offer. Always”.

Although few of us will be asked to stroll down a catwalk, or pose nude for that matter, it is good to see that attitudes toward the ideals we are encouraged to aspire to are changing. It tells us that it's never too late to start something and more importantly it's never too late to believe you can.

In brief

If you need more evidence, then read some of the other great stories from this month. First we have this lovely opinion piece from journalist Yvonne Roberts, exploring the u-shaped happiness curve which suggests life gets better as you age - all the way into your 70s. Take her word, Yvonne has done them both.

Then we have this piece from CNBC about the venture capitalists exploring the opportunities within digital health to support older Americans live in place for longer. Perhaps young people won’t be the only market advertisers will care about soon.

Don’t miss another story from the BBC about a woman who went back to University to start a new career in her 80s. It’s already inspired one person to do the same – her husband!

And finally we have this piece in The Sun about the Rolling Stones' new tour being sponsored by a pensions specialist. They’ve gone from ‘Start Me Up’, to ‘Save It Up’. Older and wiser indeed.

That's it for this month. Until the next, be sure to follow us on Twitter and keep exploring the world of #AgileLiving.