As we begin a new year working for more equitable societies for every generation, we continue our commitment to scanning the horizon in the dynamic world of ageing.
And as we near the end of one decade, Ian Spero has explored how we may navigate the next 10 in the World Health Organisation's 'Decade of Healthy Ageing' (2020-2030), offering six expert insights to better understand what the challenges may be.
As Ian says, predicting the future will always be problematic, but as this month’s news review shows, there are many ways to try.
With the startling fact that “a third of all babies born in the West in 2016 will live to see their 100th birthday”, we begin the year with this reflective piece from Australia's Sunday Morning Herald, arguing for a wider societal response to our increasing longevity.
For those who follow AAA regularly, many of its themes will be familiar. But what makes author Amanda Hooton's piece particularly compelling is her combination of innovative projects such as the AGEncy project, “a co-housing plan in Sydney where members pool their resources to build housing to suit their own needs”, alongside philosophical musings from names like Carl Jung and Germaine Greer.
The challenges of our extended lifespans, as we know, are great. But Amanda finishes her piece with an inspiring statement from Dr Laura Carstensen, professor of psychology at Stanford University and founding director of the Stanford Centre on Longevity; “Societies with millions of talented, emotionally stable citizens, who are healthier and better educated than any generations before them, armed with knowledge of the practical matters of life, and motivated to solve the big issues, can be better societies than we have ever known”.
Now that's a vision to start any year with.
Designing For Life
Our next piece is about a true visionary, designer Pattie Moore.
The BBC podcast is narrated by Jeremy Myerson, the Helen Hamlyn Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art. In it, he looks at Pattie's pioneering work which began in 1970s New York, where she literally put her life on the line to see how design could better serve the needs of older adults.
As the only female designer at Raymond Loewy International (Loewy being recognised as the 'father of industrial design'), Pattie was driven to change what she saw as an inequality in how design served every generation.
To do so, she began a radical experiment where she donned prosthetics to disguise her appearance and reduce her hearing and mobility. She then travelled to 100 cities around the US to discover the realities of ageing in America, to learn about the everyday lives and real needs of older adults.
If you're not familiar with her work then it's a must listen, but quite simply it sets the standard in how committed some people are to making a difference. Pattie is an Agile Ageing hero.
Age of Creativity
Having begun with the WHO's vision for the next 10 years, we look now at a new report by King's College London assessing the last 10 years of how creativity has impacted the lives of older adults. Commissioned by the Baring Foundation, 'Older and Wiser?' looks at their progress over a decade of arts funding to participatory activities involving older people.
The report found the creative offering to older adults, although by no means perfect, is becoming more representative to the diverse needs of older adults and is now more participatory, better at supporting networks and recording what they learn.
Says the report; “Creative participation can contribute to a longer, happier, healthier life. It can help to amplify the voices of older people and enhance their contribution to society. It can help to overcome negative stereotypes and reduce our fear of ageing. There is work to be done, but the time has come for the benefits of creative ageing to be realised”.
With much of the focus around ageing being on work, housing and health, creativity is probably one of the least explored areas. But as we find more ways to age better, the focus will inevitably shift to the ‘what’. As in what will we all do. We'll make sure to keep a close eye on this sector in 2020.
We now look at the rest of the best stories from this month, starting with this piece from Market Watch about the wide range of jobs open to older workers, and how to find them.
Remote working features heavily, with an increasing number of employers making working from home a key part of their structure. Even better, one thing that makes you more attractive for such roles is something older workers may have over younger applicants. Discipline.
Delving into the job market in more detail is our next article from the BBC's Generation Project, which looks at the economic impact of an ageing workforce.
With so much scaremongering about the 'grey tsunami', it argues that instead of focusing on the reported slowing of growth in areas where working population is ageing, the focus should be on the opportunities this brings. Employees who stick around? Always a bonus.
And we conclude with this article which looks at the recent review by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain, on the impact of green spaces on our health and longevity.
After analyzing "nine longitudinal studies spanning seven countries, 8 million people, and several years of follow-up", the review concluded that, quite simply, green spaces help us live longer. Cue the rise of ‘very’ remote working.
That's it for this month, until the next be sure to follow us on Twitter and #StayAgile!
Image used with permission. Copyright dolgachov.