Please see below selected recent ageing-related change.
- Prospect noted that Madeleine Bunting’s 2020 book Labours of Love blended reportage with ethical interrogation into the way we do (and don’t) care for the old and others, claiming that resources are one problem: another is our culture of quantification and that capitalism misses the essence of what care involves: not task performance, but being present and listening...in our hours of need, we all know a personal touch is what matters most.
- There’s growing awareness of the economic and cultural impact of older people, too. Even back in 2015, spending by older households in the G20 was almost $10 trillion, more than the combined GDP of Japan, Australia, Canada and Brazil.
- Often referred to as the "grey wave" or "silver tsunami" - figurative language that has been criticised for its ageist connotations - a period of ageing is currently underway that has seen the global proportion of the population aged 65 and over increase by more than 50% in the last twenty years. By 2050, those over 60 are expected to represent one fifth of the entire global population. Not only are there now more elderly than ever before in history, they're also living longer than ever before. Average life expectancies in America, for example, are on track to have increased by over ten years in the century leading up to 2060.
- Israeli scientists extended the lifespan of mice by 23% with a technique they say may translate to humans. They boosted a protein, SIRT6, known to decline with age, and will now search for a drug that can elevate levels of SIRT6 in the human body.
- The COVID pandemic negatively affected employment prospects for those over the age of 50, according to new data. The figures from the UK Office for National Statistics showed that workers aged 50 and over were more likely to report working fewer hours than usual, with those over 65 most likely to say they had worked reduced hours. The over-50s also made up more than a quarter of the 1.3 million people who were furloughed, and three in 10 of those workers on furlough believe there is a 50 per cent or higher chance that they will lose their job when the scheme ends.
- For Aeon, ancient wisdom and literary musing find a close translation in modern neurological research into dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: retrogenesis, meaning backward (retro-) beginning (-genesis). It was proposed by Barry Reisberg, a psychiatrist at the New York University school of medicine, as a model to make sense of the progressive decline in Alzheimer’s. In 1999, Reisberg defined retrogenesis as ‘the process by which degenerative mechanisms reverse the order of acquisition in normal development’. In other words, the deterioration of a patient with Alzheimer’s follows, in reverse order, a child’s normal development. What a child learns first in this world, a patient loses last; what a child learns last, the patient loses first.
- Research from the Centre for Ageing Better showed that 36% of jobseekers aged 50-69 think their age disadvantages them at every stage of the recruitment process. The Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis also recently reported that older workers in the US face higher unemployment than mid-career workers for the first time in 50 years.
- The pandemic was especially difficult for older workers, who were hit harder by job losses than mid-career workers. Older workers also spent a much longer time unemployed than their younger counterparts.
- However, mounting evidence from psychological science researchers suggested that amid the pandemic, those aged 50 and above coped better at work and retained a more positive emotional well-being than younger workers. The findings led researchers to wrestle with the question of whether people somehow develop better coping skills as they age, according to The New York Times writes. Researchers claimed that older workers were consistently more durable, stable and more positive overall than their younger counterparts.
- Europe’s oldest person beat Covid-19. The fully recovered French nun then celebrated her 117th birthday today.
- “For old people,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her meditation on ageing and what beauty really means, “beauty doesn’t come free with the hormones, the way it does for the young… It has to do with who the person is.” But who is the person staring back at us from the mirror as the decades roll by? The mystery of what makes you and your childhood self the same person despite a lifetime of changes is, after all, one of the most interesting questions of philosophy, noted Maria Popova in Brain Pickings.
- The biggest rise in unemployment since the onset of the pandemic has been among the young. But, warned the Financial Times, older workers are also disproportionately likely to have been furloughed or made redundant, and many have left the labour market. Evidence from previous recessions suggests they will struggle the most to find a new job even as the economy recovers. “Even pre-Covid, the re-employment rate was far lower for the over-50s than for any other group,” warned Emily Andrews, senior evidence manager at the Centre for Ageing Better.
- There are about 200 children with progeria worldwide. Although they seem healthy as babies, by age 1 or 2 they are failing to grow, losing the fat under their skin, and developing vascular and other problems characteristic of 80-year-olds. They typically die around age 14 of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses of old age. Cognitively normal, they know exactly what is happening to them. However, research now suggests that CRISPR cures progeria in mice, raising hope for one-time therapy for a disease that causes rapid ageing,
- South Korea's population dropped for the first time in over a decade, falling by almost 21,000 year-on-year as the number of deaths surpassed the number of births. South Korea is grappling with an increasingly aging society, with more than 24 percent of the population now over the age of 60.
- Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Shamir Medical Centre in Israel found that high-pressure oxygen therapy in hyperbaric chambers could halt and even reverse the shortening of telomeres, caps on the ends of chromosomes that are key to the ageing process. As we get older, telomeres shorten until the cells themselves die. High-pressure oxygen therapy lengthened participants’ telomeres, reversing ageing at the cellular level. The findings may lead to treatments that improve our ability to pay attention and process information as we age.
- US President-elect Biden is three years older than Bill Clinton, who took the oath in 1992. The future-facing lesson for all of us? New World Same Humans thinks that it's this: we’ve extended the human healthspan, and that has made possible new kinds of story arcs across our lives. And besides, life is full of surprises. Never count yourself out.
- As people age, they often lose their motivation to learn new things or engage in everyday activities. In a study of mice, MIT neuroscientists identified a brain circuit that is critical for maintaining this kind of motivation. This circuit is particularly important for learning to make decisions that require evaluating the cost and reward that come with a particular action. The researchers showed that they could boost older mice's motivation to engage in this type of learning by reactivating this circuit, and they could also decrease motivation by suppressing the circuit, reported Big Think.
- Technological frontrunners like South Korea aren't immune to the digital gap between young and old, which has only widened as the pandemic increased our use of contactless technology. To narrow that divide, the Seoul Digital Foundation is employing robots to teach older adults to use KakaoTalk, one of South Korea's most popular messaging apps.
- A professor of psychology at the University of California argued in Aeon that human beings need special care while we are young and when we become old. The 2020 pandemic made this vivid: millions of people across the world took care of children at home, and millions more tried to care for grandparents, even when they couldn’t be physically close to them. COVID-19 reminded us how much we need to take care of the young and the old. But it’s also reminded us how much we care for and about them, and how important the relations between the generations are.
- One in nine people in the world is 60 or older and this is expected to rise to one in five people by 2050. Increased longevity is an indicator of successful economic development; however, an ageing population presents social and economic challenges that have become increasingly apparent in many industrialized nations around the globe. The implications of greater longevity are profound and demand a response from policymakers and financial institutions that adequately recognises the extent of the shift to longer working lives, with measures designed to meet the financial needs of ageing societies. The COVID 19 health crisis, with the devastating impact on many sectors of the global economy, exacerbated the already challenging situation with the retirement adequacy in many countries.
- Even before the coronavirus pandemic, high-profile collapses and negative publicity, not to mention steep costs, have increased the need for alternatives to residential care among a rapidly ageing population. Large-scale retirement villages have taken off in a big way in recent years. There are more than 100 in the UK alone, each usually comprised of 100 or more properties. There are a variety of housing styles with a range of facilities, some of which reach luxurious standards with sauna, spas and libraries. Meals and personal care are sometimes factored in within care packages and costs are tailored to the resident
- We are not just living longer. Many of us are also healthier for longer, noted the FT This may sound strange when the world has been upended by a virus that kills mostly the old, but this is not going to noticeably thin the ranks of the elderly. Nor will they change the fundamental dilemma of many developed countries, as well as China: that they have too few young people to support a dependent older population.
- Employers have historically viewed older workers with scepticism, perceiving, variously, that their skills have deteriorated or become obsolete or that they are overqualified, will require long ramp-up times, lack commitment to the job, or are simply too old. These concerns faded during the coronavirus crisis. Employers are now recognising the strengths this pool of workers has demonstrated all along: institutional knowledge, education, work experience, mature perspective, stable life stage, dedication, loyalty, and an energy and enthusiasm about returning to work, noted the Harvard Business Review.
- It is not a word you will find in any dictionary and yet “unretirement” is a term the world of business should get to know urgently, argued Raconteur. According to a groundbreaking study published in 2019 by King’s College London, deciding to unretire is a societal phenomenon we are barely aware of and yet more and more of us are now doing it. The research showed that a quarter of people in the UK who retire now change their minds and resume work, mostly within five years of giving up their jobs. The results indicated that there are various factors behind such a decision.
- Some scientists are arguing that we need to redefine ageing. For example, David Sinclair, geneticist at Harvard Medical School, says ageing should no longer be seen as a natural consequence of getting older, but as a condition in and of itself. What could be the implications of a new definition? The World Health Organisation and the US Food and Drug Administration classify diseases and this guides how drugs can be trialled, prescribed and sold. It could also direct more research and investment into the field.
- Age discrimination has long blighted labour markets around the world, in spite of legal prohibitions against it, warned The Financial Times. Do campaigners worry the coronavirus crisis is about to make age discrimination far worse? “Hugely,” according to Ros Altmann, a former UK pensions ministers. “I’m so upset to see it.” Covid-19 has reinforced the idea of older people as frail and vulnerable. Some previous pandemics have largely affected the young — the polio outbreaks of the 1950s mainly hit children under five; the devastating 1918-19 flu killed millions of young adults — but Covid-19 mostly kills older sufferers.
- Age UK warned that prolonged social isolation for all over-70s could be “unimaginably” bleak. Given that the living symbol of the UK’s resistance to the virus turned 100 during the coronavirus crisis, Tortoise Media warned that it may not be a wise idea to patronise our elders.
- According to a study published by King’s College London, deciding to unretire is a societal phenomenon we are barely aware of and yet more and more of us are now doing it. The research showed that a quarter of people in the UK who retire now change their minds and resume work, mostly within five years of giving up their jobs. The results indicated that there are various factors behind such a decision.
- Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, communities have come together (even as they have sometimes been physically forced apart), and individuals have engaged in simple acts of kindness to remind the sick and quarantined that they are not forgotten. Yet from some quarters, we’ve also seen a degree of cruelty that is truly staggering. “The elderly” are bunched together as a faceless mass. Lost entirely is the fact that the elderly are individual human beings, each with a distinctive face and voice, each with hopes and dreams, memories and regrets, friendships and marriages, loves lost and loves sustained.
- Improvements in healthcare treatments worldwide, and increased access to them, mean we are living longer than ever before. The global number of elderly people, aged 65 or above, outnumbered children under five years of age in 2018 for the first time, while those aged 80 and over is forecast to triple between 2019 and 2050.
- Further reading:
- Ageing - United Nations
- Global attitudes to retirement - Raconteur
- Implications of ageing - Raconteur
- Inside architect Sarah Wigglesworth’s age-proofed home - Financial Times
- The secret to a long life? Matching sex chromosomes - AAAS
- The truth about midlife dating and sex - The Sunday Times
- What you learn when you move your parents into assisted living - Quartz
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- The world is getting older. Over the next 30 years, many older people will move into nursing homes and assisted living. This group will redefine what senior living looks like, writes Quartz, giving birth to an era of “geriatric cool” and a new luxury industry that caters to it. The senior-living industry is growing quickly to meet the demands of an ageing world, and redefining the culture of aging in the process. This is a future influenced by the on-demand lifestyles of millennials and the hospitality industry rather than hospitals.
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- People are living longer, but with longevity comes challenges. The World Economic Forum’s Investing in (and for) Our Future report, looked at life expectancy and savings provisions across six major world economies. The findings showed that people should expect to live longer than the pot of money they have saved for retirement, by between eight to almost 20 years on average, with the highest burden on women. Ageing populations have placed unsustainable pressure on government and employer-sponsored pension systems, leading to a growing trend for individuals to take responsibility for financing their own retirement. But savings have failed to keep pace with the decline in traditional pension plans, leading to the current retirement savings deficit.
- As societies age, employers need to tap into the wisdom and experience of the older workforce. Analysis by Mercer highlighted the numerous ways experienced workers can bring value to the workplace, with these virtues often sitting beyond traditional performance management metrics. Benefits can include: being lower cost due to the lower likelihood of them leaving the business; their influence in helping to retain, develop and engage more junior employees; their impact on group productivity via their increased knowledge sharing; their ability to foster collaboration, cohesion and resiliency within groups and their support for innovation and strengthening customer connections.
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- The world is getting older. By 2030, the population that is over the age of 65 will rise by nearly 40 percent. By 2050, it will more than double. How can healthcare systems manage a big uptick in chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, or Alzheimer's without going broke? Is immigration the answer? Or robots? These are just a few of the questions the next generation of political leaders will have to grapple with as our populations get older.
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- The number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. Many people are living longer but, for many, those extra years are blighted by ill health.
- Age discrimination is a common reality in the workplace, and its effects extend well beyond individual workers. According to a study by business insurance provider Hiscox, 21% of those over the age of 40 have been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, 80% of whom say it has impacted their career trajectory. At the same time, 62% of all workers received no formal training related to age-based discrimination in the previous 12 months, according to the study.
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- The radical longevity movement has undergone massive growth, with the amount of investment in various longevity-focused products and endeavours has jumped drastically, from millions to many billions of dollars. Bank of America analysts predict the longevity industry could be worth “at least $600 billion” by 2025.
- Strained government and employee retirement plans have left individuals increasingly responsible for their own retirement; many are finding their personal savings to be inadequate. Retirees in six major economies should expect to outlive their savings by eight to nearly 20 years on average, with women and Japanese retirees outliving their savings for longer. To close these savings gaps, individuals and policy-makers must take steps to ensure individual retirement investments can provide returns retirees won’t outlive.
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- For the Financial Times, longer lifespans and declining birth-rates - as fertility plummets almost everywhere outside sub-Saharan Africa - constitute the most dramatic story of our age. Shrinking, ageing populations may alter the balance of power between countries: notably between the US and China, the latter of which is growing old before it gets rich. Longevity will create multigenerational households and age-diverse workforces. The falling ratio of young to old will rewrite social contracts and force us to rethink the whole notion of family.
- For TrendWatching, targeting older consumers is perhaps the smartest, yet least adopted business strategy today. First, sheer numbers: in 2015, one in 12 people around the world were over 65, by 2050 it will be one in six. Second, spending power: in the US, boomers control 70% of disposable income. Third, future growth: between 2015 and 2030, over half of the total urban consumption growth in developed countries will be driven by those aged over 60.
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- In Europe, taxes would have to rise as much as 30 percent to cover future pension outlays, claimed the IMF.
- For the first time in history there are more people over the age of 65 than under the age of five. The trend towards ageing has economists worried about soaring pension costs and weakening productivity. Older economies appear to be less productive because older workers are less eager to embrace new technologies. Research suggests that economic dynamism could be maintained by increasing industrial competition or immigration, but it will be difficult to win political support for either, warned The Economist.
- In 1997, about 5 percent of crimes in Japan were committed by people over the age of 65. By 2017, the percentage had risen to 20. Why, asked GZEROMedia? Some say Japan’s pension system isn’t generous enough and that the elderly are choosing prison, where they’re guaranteed three meals a day, over poverty. Others add that many older Japanese would rather live within a prison community than isolated and lonely on the outside. Whatever the cause, this may become a problem worth studying in all countries with fast-expanding populations of pensioners.
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- The UN estimated that the world will have 2.1 billion people over age 60 by 2050. Around the world, governments (and companies) are grappling with the implications of aging populations, and reassessing how retirement works. The New York Times examined ways countries are addressing the issue (paywall), from increasing the retirement age to reforming pension systems to incentivising people to work longer.
- In a culture that celebrates youth and vitality as the summum bonum, old age and its attendant frailties seem more like shameful system failures than inevitable realities from which we might learn. It need not be this way, argued The Hedgehog Review, which looked at ageing and dying from a number of vantage points: socioeconomic, personal, literary, and medical - all with the aim of recovering the meaning and value of life in its twilight hours.
- More than half of Japanese babies can expect to live to 100. The Economist noted that this prospect would have horrified Yukio Mishima, a writer who thought it so important to die young and handsome that he ritually disembowelled himself after staging a pantomime “coup” attempt in 1970. It horrifies today’s pessimists, too. They worry that, as the country ages and its population shrinks, health bills will soar, the pension system will go bust, villages will empty and there will be too few youngsters to care for the elderly.
- China is turning grey on a scale the world has never seen, noted Quartz News, exploring what happens when the world’s largest group of baby boomers remains eager and able to work past retirement age, and why we need to redefine the role of ageing populations in society.
- Town Square is a 1950s-style town that offers an interactive experience for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The experience immerses visitors in reminiscence therapy, which transports patients to a time of their strongest memories (usually formed between ages 10-30). The Town Square, reported TrendWatching, is currently targeting patients in their 70s or 80s, which is why it replicates the period between 1953-1961. Each Town Square features 14 storefronts (including a pet store, a diner, and a movie theatre), where caregivers guide visitors through specialised, therapeutic activities.
- According to a study published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, people in Spain will have an average lifespan of 85.8 years by 2040, while those in Japan will lag ever so slightly behind on 85.7 years.
- Life expectancies have risen by an average of three years per decade since the 1940s and, while retirement ages are gradually increasing, people are spending longer not working without the savings to justify it. This has created a $70-trillion pensions timebomb in eight of the world’s largest economies, which could swell by nearly six times by 2050, warned Raconteur.
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- New analysis of international data from 35 countries, published by the International Longevity Centre, argued in favour of a “longevity dividend”. The authors found that as life expectancy increases, so does “output per hour worked, per worker and per capita”. Yet, much of the public debate on ageing has been framed in terms of a “burden”. As populations age, governments have worried about how a swelling population of retired people will put increasing stress on pension systems and the social care sector.
- Researchers noted that, for older people, the general risk of death seems to drop by about 5% for each point gained on the Mediterranean diet scale. What’s more, some past research has shown associations between the Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of cancer, and particularly with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
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- Humans are living longer, which puts additional strain on healthcare provision, social care and pensions. And unless these issues are addressed, they could wreak havoc on economies in the future, warned the World Economic Forum (WEF). The thinking goes that by harnessing the potential of older workers, governments can raise additional tax revenues and increase spending power, which in turn boosts output.
- In this vein, PwC’s Golden Age Index assesses the impact of older workers on different aspects of a country’s labour market, including employment, earnings, the gender gap and participation in training. Iceland topped the 2018 index with 84% of the 55-64 age range employed, compared with the OECD average of 60%. New Zealand was second (78%) and Israel (66.8%) took the final podium step. At the other end of the scale were Luxembourg with 40% of the same age group employed, Greece with 37% and Turkey with 34%.
- Scientists at Yale have developed a blood test that can estimate a person’s life-expectancy. The test involves the analysis of nine biomarkers in the human body that indicate how long a body is likely to survive as opposed to how long it’s been out of the womb, according to The Guardian.
- Much has been written in recent years about the growth in the multi-generational workplace that will see millennials, boomers and Gen Xers rubbing shoulders for the first time. When taken together with workplace trends such as the rise in the gig economy, it’s prompted many to reassess the linear model of life that sees us study > work > retire, which, for RealKM, is a model that tends to diminish the value of people as they near the end of the work phase, which could see both organisations and society missing out on tremendous wisdom.
- This is an argument also made in a recent book, Wisdom at Work, which argues that we should be seeing the rise of modern ‘elders’ who can impart distinct wisdom, especially in technology-driven workplaces that often favour the young.
- While the ageing of society has become one of the givens in today’s world, less is made of the lived experience of the very elderly in society, noted The Conversation. And although there is some suggestion that the much trumpeted steady expansion of the human lifespan has begun to slow down, the numbers of very old people continue to grow. Despite this, debates about the resourcing of universal health and social care tend not to examine the costs associated with extreme ageing.
- Multivitamins aren’t helping people live longer, argued Quartz. For most people, there is no reason to take them.
- The last human who was alive in the 19th century died. Nabi Tajima passed away in April 2018 in a hospital on the Japanese island of Kikaijima. At 117 years old, she was both the world’s oldest woman and the only known living person who was born in 1900 (which is, in fact, part of the 19th century). Her secret to good health? “Eating delicious things and sleeping well”, according to Quartz.
- Over the past 500 years, life expectancy has effectively doubled in countries around the world.
- A chorus of nursery rhymes may not be what one expects to hear on walking into an elderly people’s home, but a retirement facility London has its residents doing just that -and children are there to lead the way. The facility is the first of its kind in the UK that integrates both older residents and children into the delivery of the curriculum and elderly care. With a nursery and a care home on the same site, the children are able to visit the elderly residents on a daily basis - to the delight of both parties.
- According to Issues Online, the number of people today aged 60 and over has doubled since 1980. The number of people aged 80 years will almost quadruple to 395 million between now and 2050. Within the next five years, the number of adults aged 65 and over will outnumber children under the age of five. By 2050, these older adults will outnumber all children under the age of 14. The majority of older people live in low- or middle-income countries. By 2050, this number will have increased to 80%.
- In one country alone (UK), 60% of older people agree that age discrimination exists in the daily lives of older people. 50% of adults agree that once you reach very old age, people tend to treat you like a child. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia primarily affect the over-60s, heart and circulatory diseases are the largest cause of mortality in adults over 65 and there are steep increases in alcohol-related hospital admissions for pensioners, while many older people suffer from isolation, with a third of people aged over 65 wanting to be more socially active.
- A London Business School professor of management practice argued that the trajectory of our lives, professionally and personally, remains trapped in a mind-set that applied when life spans were much shorter. In her book, The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, Gratton explained why lives are moving from two stages to three and what that means not only for individuals but for corporations and governments as well.
- When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, they found a poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.
- 2011 saw the first baby-boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reach 65. Over the next 20 years, what has been called the "most numerous, most successful and luckiest generation ever" will gradually move into retirement. Indeed, most wealth is owned by the over 65s, and increasingly, most of that wealth will be owned by women (see video) - a business opportunity many organisations don't seem to have woken up to yet. Globally, the number of those aged 65 and over is growing at around twice the rate of the overall population, and by 2050 nearly one in three people will be aged over 60. This is now the fastest-growing primary segment of the world’s population, and its growth rate is outstripped only by that of an even older subgroup: those aged 80 and above.