Friday, 15 April 2016

No One Is Getting Out Of Here Alive


Ageing is the most exposed thing that any of us will ever do - simply by living. Everyone who lives will go through this process but ever since the 5th Century BC, humanity has persisted in trying to prevent it - ever searching for the fountain of youth. And after all those centuries, immortality still eludes us, and we are vulnerable because of it.
We perceive ourselves as vulnerable because we see youth as the pinnacle of our being. Age is held up as the evidence that we are losing our footing in the race of life. We love to celebrate birthdays but the more we have, the less we want to acknowledge what they represent. Old age seems like a box we don’t want to tick; but the only people who evade it are those who escaped it entirely. Think.....who paid the ultimate price for beauty in perpetuity....still so keen?
Sarah Silverman, comic and social observer, raises an interesting point. In a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld, she noted that there are lots of girls today who watch their mothers fret over every wrinkle in their attempt to hit “the pause button” - at every opportunity, at any cost. This widespread ambition to stop the clock makes our next generation fear their own ageing, as they become unwilling to daydream about their own futures.
Consider for a moment that you’re pre-to post pubescent and maybe even a young mother, and your mom looks exactly like you (or better) and never changes. You watch your body go through major changes while hers is frozen; what impact might that have on developing and accepting your own identity? It’s like trying to square real life with the Kardashian world.
We already know how the rampant pressure being exerted on people to conform to an idealized, stylized, ageless beauty is mainstream without anyone taking ownership of the idea. And its an ideology that has pervasive but prejudiced impact. Fitzgerald was right, the rich are different. In this case, they throw every last bit of their wallets at the elusive stopped clock, high on hopes of cheating time of its timeless due. Ignorant to their impotence in the face of it.
How did we get here? And if we don’t succumb to the pressure, why does that imply that we are letting ourselves down, letting ourselves go? It seems we’ve made a rod for our own backs. It is up to all of us to embrace nature as nurture and teach self acceptance.
The BBC has aired a two part series How to Stay Young and the answer boils down to SPOILER ALERT - lifestyle choices. No new revelations but everyone likes lists so here you go:
1 Increase fruits, veg and nuts and decrease meat,
2 Up your exercise by doing things you actually like doing
3 Lower stress with meditation and try to look on the bright side
4 If you can, get a dog and if you have one, take it to work with you!
If it makes you feel good, do it but don’t get suckered into the hype. Hope in a scalpel, a syringe or a bottle is still only hope. Google’s Calico (California Life Company) is committed to life extension and they will undoubtedly figure out a way to do just that. But when it’s all said and done, and assuming we were to find out that we can have forever, would we really even want it?
We deal with ageing in slow motion, every single day and yet no one likes to talk about ‘it’. This conversation is for everyone who wants to age, which is the same as saying you want to live. It is a choice and it does not matter how young you might think you look or even think you wish you were. Starting now it’s got to be great, not just ok, to get old. It’s time.
The ultimate currency.



This blog originally appeared in the Huffington Post on 15 April 2016    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-gale/go-forth-and-prosper-it-y_b_9235256.html

Friday, 11 March 2016

Plan on getting older? D' Big Isssues

ALERT. This might not be the most uplifting post to date but it's time we talk. These are some things to consider and solutions that are available right now, that you ought to know about. 

So, what do you think it will it be - Dementia, Diabetes, Depression or some other Dignity Destroying Dependency or Disability that steps in before death will take all of us out? Tricky question, when we have no idea if we will get older, let alone how much old we will get.

That ratchets up the tension with every birthday.

In the meantime, the rising incidence of bodily changes as we age is indisputable. Disability is more likely to become a normal part of the human condition, as we reach greater ages. And if this is the new normal, realistic needs assessment, including the active involvement of older people in the design of products becomes more urgent - now.

So, what can be done to enhance the quality of life for those who are already living with disabilities? Thankfully, a number of companies are actively and creatively addressing the unpleasant but also realistic concept of living with disabilities.

Unforgettable is one of them, and it is focused on improving the lives of people living with and coping with cognitive deficits and dementia. James Ashwell, the founder has first hand knowledge of the limitations and complexities of dealing with dementia. This is because he cared for his mother during the last seven years of her total decline. His team at Unforgettable also go beyond the procurement of specialized products and services to include a supportive online community addressing issues surrounding caring for people with cognitive deficits.

And Spring Chicken is also just a click away. When Anna James father was diagnosed with Parkinson, the former Mothercare executive saw the gap in the market. Anna and her team uses their experience and expertise from catering for the early years to offer solutions for the other end of the age spectrum, selecting effective, quality products to help make life easier and brighter for older people.

Another option is MaxiAids. They offer products and new technologies for improving independent daily living for people with mobility issues, low vision or blindness and hearing loss.

Last but certainly not least, Fiona Jarvis, founder of Blue Badge Style has developed her online platform with a unique proposition; redefining disability with style. Jarvis, who has become progressively disabled over the past 20 years, makes recommendations for the less abled on style, accessibility and disabled facilities. She is creating a new standard for disabled people so that As Recommended by Blue Badge Style will become as recognizable as a Michelin star. All of these entreprenuerial efforts are welcomed. The significant numbers of individuals already affected at the same time that the scope and costs of care globally continue to escalate makes the market space for ageing hot and getting hotter.

Make no mistake, pathologies accumulate with age and the number of aged people with and without dementia is also accumulating. In the same way as the stigma surrounding mental illness is being challenged, the stigma about cognitive decline must also be acknowledged and addressed. Dementia is another mental health issue. With more people surviving to older ages, cognitive declines will escalate. It will do so unequally and this ageing population will continue to operate in normal society as ever increasing degrees of care are required.

Oldness is Demanding. While longer lives are neither guaranteed nor chosen, they will also demand better understanding, management and targeted attention to all those damn D's, D' Big Issues of our time.

Why dementia is the mother of all boomer fears.

Dementia's got us all hepped up, with worry. The "forgetting" is epidemic because it's the fear of losing ourselves. And it has penetrated the consciousness of humanity since the time of Aristotle.

We used to call it senility. For thousands of years, the older people who survived could go doolally while life went on, around them. In the past 25 years, dementia has turned into a major health problem.

At present, dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK; 40,000 of whom are under 65. Meanwhile, in the US, one-third of the US population over 85 already has the disease. It's marked by different manifestations and trajectories, no defined starting point and likely to incubate for 20-30 years. No wonder we're afraid.

People are more frightened of dementia than of a life altering or prematurely life-curtailing disease.

Since our brains start shrinking at age 25, there are decades of fear ahead, even though cognitive decline is rarely seen in the under 60s. Still, some measure of intelligence theft, over time, is inevitable. And while it's true that faster declines have been linked to the usual culprits, the likelihood you'll succumb to dementia still can't be predicted with any accuracy -- even for all the smoking, obese, diabetics with high blood pressure out there. Meanwhile, no one is immune, so earning those stripes during midlife is not advisable, particularly if being well-derly instead of ill-derly is preferred.

Taking personal responsibility for controllable risk factors carries far greater importance the longer we get. That's even true for things we used to chalk up to genetic destiny, because we know that is no longer cast in stone.
Which makes it even stranger that so many don't pursue or actively consider wellness as an option. The British Heart Foundation recently reported that one in seven Brits have done zero exercise in the past decade, citing pure laziness as the most common reason. Thankfully, public health messages are now trumpeting that if it's good for your heart, it's also good for your head. Consequently, improvements to basic healthcare for any disorder that can increase risks of dementia is fundamental to getting to grips with this disease.

That said, getting an Alzheimers diagnosis is not always straightforward and the recent scandal regarding numbers of new cases has increased fears too. Luckily, there appears to be a link between your ability to smell peanut butter with your left nostril, from a distance, and confirmation of a positive diagnosis. There is even a new application for a patent for a device that can screen, detect, diagnose and/or monitor relative olfactory deterioration resulting from Alzheimer's disease. That's good news.

Further to optimism, attention is rightly being paid to a breakthrough drug called C31. In a world crying out for disruption, C31 is highly disruptive. It overturns the original direction of drug treatments for dementia for good reason. There have been more than 244 drugs tested for Alzheimers since 2000, only five of them have been approved and not one of them is a silver bullet. C31 was developed by Dr Frank Longo at Stanford University. Instead of trying to eliminate the amyloid plaques that are the calling card for Alzheimer's, C31's job is to protect brain cells and keep them healthy, before any neurological disturbance ever takes place. There is positive anticipation that this new approach can cut Alzheimers off at the pass.

And now, just a few days ago, three British neuroscientists were awarded The Brain Prize, for their work on helping us understand how we form memories. Apparently, we will soon be able to erase memories and theoretically be able to implant false ones. For anyone fearing an Alzheimer's diagnosis, erasing memories sounds like the last thing you'd want researchers to be working on. However, upon closer scrutiny, being able to strengthen the brains incredible plasticity really could be the key to halting the disease in its earliest stages.

And that's the ticket.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Mind Filling

With Rugby World Cup fervor on the wane, I find my attention turning to matters of the minds -- of those rugby players.

I did a quick check on the average individual and pack weights for rugby players between 1971 and today . The players on these international squads are clearly on the big side of the big guys. Average weights have gone from 14 stone 1 (197 pounds) in 1971 to 17 stone 9 (247 pounds) and total "pack weights" from 246 stone 6 (3,450 pounds) to 268 stone 9 (3,761 pounds) in 2015. That's a lot of weight to be throwing around, literally and the last time I checked, brains and bone mass in skulls haven't grown proportionally. Mind numbing.

And that got me thinking about mindfulness and how mainstream our modern pursuit of achieving such a state has gone. After bumping along in the hands of New Age devotees from the '60s and into the '90s, mindful/meditative interventions were next to be found popping up in prisons, the military and sports world before seeping into corporate "wellness" programs. Today, things have morphed into a vastly secular and commercial bonanza. If you put meditation into your search box, Amazon showcases some 1,427,395 items and over 38,000 for mindfulness.
Mindfulness "R" Us. Being so commonplace makes it feel squishier than the brains that hold our thoughts.
The fact that we still have such a limited grasp on the actual workings of the brain makes this clever transfer of Eastern meditation, as a health intervention, more interesting. It has obviously scooped up scores of converts and these people report higher self reported levels of happiness. But when you stop and and think about it, being mindful can also carry a negative connotation -- implying a need to pause for cautious reflection or a "hey you, watch out" kind of feeling.

Conversely, mind fullness is something completely different. Mind fullness is meant to help return us to our humanness, a mutually beneficial symmetry between mind and body. It can last for a moment, the length of a yoga practice or the duration of some course laid on courtesy of your employer. Neuro-physiological gaps notwithstanding, the goal is to find happier, in a space reserved for stripped down, calm introspection. It may not be full-on-self-actualized-nirvana but a little shot of enlightenment does seem to go a long way.

If your goal stretches from enlightenment to personal excellence. there is a concept and methodology called Integral Coaching. It offers a process for ordinary and extraordinary people to bring personal excellence within reach. I recently attended a session with Justin Wise. Justin is the founder of Third Space coaching and writes On Living and Working. His work opens up pathways to stretch people in order to to cultivate curiosity and connections. Notably, he starts with your own heart; otherwise it is impossible to understand what might be going on in someone else's. By asking "What does it mean, to you, to be human?" he starts to unpick. This not so simple question demands that you reach deeply into your personal soundtrack, explore your standards, identify your values and drill down to what truly matters. That's a big ask.

And it seems that everybody is asking these days.

Financial services giant UBS is currently running a campaign called Good Father. One glossy magazine spread shows a pensive, obviously, successful man in his top floor corner-office. The ad asks: "Am I a good father? Do I spend too much time at work? Can I have it all?" Talk about your successful-male-executive-parent-conundrum. Apparently UBS can tell you, provided you will give them all your money.

Or what about Arianna Huffington's epiphany after her total collapse in 2007. She now admits to accepting incompletion in herself, meditates, does yoga and tries to thrive. Thrive happens to be the title of her 2014 book where she looks at our quest for money and power as two legs of a three legged stool. Without the third leg, it will collapse -- like she did so she outlines a third metric for redefining success and creating a happier life.

Even Sir Richard Branson is promoting work-life balance to young entrepreneurs.

Modern life, in our Western context, has programmed us to demand more and better constantly. And short of perfection, we fail to ascribe any value to it. This thwarts our ability to wonder afresh about what might bring each of us to excellence. The best mindfulness, then, is the symmetry of mind and body that can interrupts "normalness." That means looking at places and in directions we're not usually looking. Mind fullness is only possible if you are being a disruption to yourself.

If I were Arne Duncan in the U.S. or Nicky Morgan in the U.K., I would find a way to make tapping into mind fullness a mandatory part of both national curricula. In the here and now, a time of new longevity and the age of no retirement, a mindful path becomes even more essential, across our entire life course.

Returning to sport momentarily, the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research reports that there have been 11 American high school football deaths in the past four months, seven of which were directly related to football trauma. Undeniably tragic but top neuroscientist and groundbreaking inventor, David Eagleman, has developed an app to help high school coaches determine whether one of their players in concussed. Braincheck runs on any tablet and takes 5 minutes to check 12 aspects of brain function and even better, he's offering it for free. Keep that in mind.

And in a study by the Harvard School of Public Health and Alzheimer Europe, Alzheimer's is second to cancer on the list of most most feared diagnosis. Something else to be mindful of.

It still rings true today, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." So go ahead, fill up your mind and feed your head -- in good ways.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-gale/mind-filling_b_8538146.html - The Blog and is republished with permission.

Friday, 8 May 2015

All the time in the world?

She's waiting for her envelope, in which sits a letter, telling her how many years she has left to live. The policy was created in response to overpopulation. So, age is no longer an increasing number, it's a decreasing one.
And her time left has been determined by a slew of tests. Her countdown is predicated on exam results and the duration of her life will be decided on what "the rulers" deem to be her: merits, intelligence, looks and charisma. So far, so contemporary.

This disturbing, dystopian look at society was the basis of a 500 word short story written by a 13 year old girl, Susannah Ames and it was the winning entry for last year's competition. The contest is now in its fifth year and championed by Chris Evans, it's BBC Radio 2's 500 word- short-story-contest. Last year there were over 117,000 entries in the 5-9 and 10-13 age categories. As it surges from strength to strength, I've heard from one of last years judges that there were even more entries this year.

How the scores of librarians, teachers and authors whittle them down to the eventual winners, is a modern day miracle, but they do and brilliantly. So, the wait is on and this years victors will be announced on the 29th of May. But today, almost a year later, I still can't get her story out of my head.

At one point, she explains that she doesn't know who or what to believe from the "rulers " and she's afraid to say anything against them. "....It's not the end of the world, but it could be the end of my world". The parallels to today feel almost prophetic in our world, where younger generations have been taught to fear their own old age.
And that needs re-examined. As it becomes increasingly self evident that we are living longer, we have a solid opportunity to embrace new possibilities instead of believing in a narrative that focuses on limitations. Otherwise, we could effectively squander all this new longevity, potentially an extra 30 years of life. And that would be pretty irresponsible. Age is our most outstanding cultural, scientific and technological achievement. We are at the point where education has become a better predictor of life expectancy, than age.

So what's happening now is that we are re-entering a time that used to be normal, where you remained a productive member of society, for life. That was before it was decided -- for us -- that we had to remove ourselves from the workforce. In case you were wondering, we've got Bismarck to thank for retirement and for making the call that old age begins at 65. In effect, he decided that was when old age began and when governments should plan to start paying people for growing old.

Pensions are a pretty recent invention too. The Old Age Pensions Act in the UK passed in 1908 and in the US with the Sherwood Act but that only applied to veterans. It wasn't until 1935 that a solution to the problem of convincing people to stop working was discovered - you have to pay them. And we all know that formula isn't working because it doesn't make sense anymore.

Unlike the girl in the short story, the greater the age we attain, the less our successes can be linked to what pleases "the rulers." With increasing age, success gets unhinged from merits, intelligence, looks or charisma. There comes a time when career success and degrees matter less and camaraderie matters more. Physical decline can be postponed but not forever and charisma - while seductive- needs to be balanced with authenticity and empathy.
And why would we opt out and ignore this talent, particularly when emotional life improves with age and we get happier! The value in ageing comes through converting accumulated experience and wisdom into new pursuits which are equal to our full potential.

This idea is at the core of a movement for social change called The Age Of No Retirement. and it is not about frogmarching older people into working longer against their will! It's about living fully across the entire life course; changing the negative language that surrounds ageing; co-designing future workplaces and communities and appreciating multiple generations living and working together. Today, we already have four, five and six generation families living at the same time.

Right now, we act like the people this 13 year old described in her 500 words. With 24/7 news and the ubiquity of social media, we have become expert spectators, collectively passive and stumbling into the new longevity. If we cling to old definitions of a future no one can pretend to predict, we are still going to age. But we will have been complicit and ultimately powerless by refusing to choose how we will age in the 21st Century. It's time we all thought about that.

Maybe it would be easier if the choice was taken out of our hands but the reality is stark in its simplicity.

There isn't any envelope.

Deborah Gale

Originally posted in the Huffington Post on 8/5/15:
She's waiting for her envelope, in which sits a letter, telling her how many years she has left to live. The policy was created in response to overpopulation. So, age is no longer an increasing number, it's a decreasing one.
And her time left has been determined by a slew of tests. Her countdown is predicated on exam results and the duration of her life will be decided on what "the rulers" deem to be her: merits, intelligence, looks and charisma. So far, so contemporary.
This disturbing, dystopian look at society was the basis of a 500 word short story written by a 13 year old girl, Susannah Ames and it was the winning entry for last year's competition. The contest is now in its fifth year and championed by Chris Evans, it's BBC Radio 2's 500 word- short-story-contest. Last year there were over 117,000 entries in the 5-9 and 10-13 age categories. As it surges from strength to strength, I've heard from one of last years judges that there were even more entries this year.
How the scores of librarians, teachers and authors whittle them down to the eventual winners, is a modern day miracle, but they do and brilliantly. So, the wait is on and this years victors will be announced on the 29th of May. But today, almost a year later, I still can't get her story out of my head.
At one point, she explains that she doesn't know who or what to believe from the "rulers " and she's afraid to say anything against them. "....It's not the end of the world, but it could be the end of my world". The parallels to today feel almost prophetic in our world, where younger generations have been taught to fear their own old age.
And that needs re-examined. As it becomes increasingly self evident that we are living longer, we have a solid opportunity to embrace new possibilities instead of believing in a narrative that focuses on limitations. Otherwise, we could effectively squander all this new longevity, potentially an extra 30 years of life. And that would be pretty irresponsible. Age is our most outstanding cultural, scientific and technological achievement. We are at the point where education has become a better predictor of life expectancy, than age.
So what's happening now is that we are re-entering a time that used to be normal, where you remained a productive member of society, for life. That was before it was decided -- for us -- that we had to remove ourselves from the workforce. In case you were wondering, we've got Bismarck to thank for retirement and for making the call that old age begins at 65. In effect, he decided that was when old age began and when governments should plan to start paying people for growing old.
Pensions are a pretty recent invention too. The Old Age Pensions Act in the UK passed in 1908 and in the US with the Sherwood Act but that only applied to veterans. It wasn't until 1935 that a solution to the problem of convincing people to stop working was discovered - you have to pay them. And we all know that formula isn't working because it doesn't make sense anymore.
Unlike the girl in the short story, the greater the age we attain, the less our successes can be linked to what pleases "the rulers." With increasing age, success gets unhinged from merits, intelligence, looks or charisma. There comes a time when career success and degrees matter less and camaraderie matters more. Physical decline can be postponed but not forever and charisma - while seductive- needs to be balanced with authenticity and empathy.
And why would we opt out and ignore this talent, particularly when emotional life improves with age and we get happier! The value in ageing comes through converting accumulated experience and wisdom into new pursuits which are equal to our full potential.
This idea is at the core of a movement for social change called The Age Of No Retirement. and it is not about frogmarching older people into working longer against their will! It's about living fully across the entire life course; changing the negative language that surrounds ageing; co-designing future workplaces and communities and appreciating multiple generations living and working together. Today, we already have four, five and six generation families living at the same time.
Right now, we act like the people this 13 year old described in her 500 words. With 24/7 news and the ubiquity of social media, we have become expert spectators, collectively passive and stumbling into the new longevity. If we cling to old definitions of a future no one can pretend to predict, we are still going to age. But we will have been complicit and ultimately powerless by refusing to choose how we will age in the 21st Century. It's time we all thought about that.
Maybe it would be easier if the choice was taken out of our hands but the reality is stark in its simplicity.

There isn't any envelope.
Deborah Gale

Friday, 13 March 2015

Walk this way

Fat -- good :)
Sugar -- poison :(
Dry January
Limiting for lent
Decluttered yet?
Digitally detoxed?
Embraced mindfulness?
And while you're at it , don't forget to THRIVE!
Three months into 2015 and it's a wellness-overload-loop.
But, here's something dead simple to start up and keep up. It's for anyone who plans on ageing. So, if you're thinking about stayin' alive, you're in. It's non-toxic and most of us do it already, but lots of us take it for granted.
Walking. Simply speaking, Walking Works Wonders.
If you're a typical office worker, you spend more time sitting at your desk than you do sleeping. If you're sitting, you're not moving let alone breathing right and if that's for over 10 hours a day -- expect consequences.
Researchers at Loughborough University's Working Health Research Centre are looking at ways to improve health and well being in the workplace. This becomes more and more important as conventional retirement disappears in the Age Of No Retirement and people choose to work later.
But real change in behavior and sustaining change is notoriously difficult. Changing a behavior is only achieved by knowing how to reverse it. This is more likely if people feel that that they are doing something they can control, as well as choose. When these conditions are met, the likelihood of sticking to it is greater.
In trials with over 1,000 British Telecom employees, sustained behavioural change via the introduction of short walking breaks and walking lunches has changed attitudes, concentrated focus and helped people take personal responsibility. Along with increased self-awareness, employee enjoyment was widely reported. Exercising was no longer something that they might or might not do, it became part of their daily routine. Wearing pedometers, which provided instant feedback, proved highly motivating and they loved the sense that they were in control.
Improvements were recorded across all markers including BMI, work performance, attitude to jobs and lifestyle behaviors. Changes to healthier food choices, reduction in alcohol consumption and improved well being were also reported.
So, if walking works wonders, footwear choice becomes even more important, a particularly painful problem for working women. A reported 44 percent of women is prepared to wear uncomfortable shoes compared with less than 20 percent of men! Perversely, while high heels with narrow toe boxes can hardly be justified as sensible shoes, researchers have concluded that wearing high heels is significantly correlated to general good health. Despite middle aged women's reporting of foot pain, high heels make a women feel prettier! In a 20 year study of 1000 women with a median age of 61, 84 percent of the participants were wearing over two-inch heels at year 10 and this only dropped to 53 percent by year 20. Now that we are all expected to live longer, it looks like the market for female footwear can also be expected to expand.
At London Fashion Week, Irish designer Orla Kiely's preview show was predictably populated with beautiful, young models. But for anyone who has ever witnessed catwalk shows where the shoes have literally let the girls down, the Kiely footwear collection was refreshingly safer, sophisticated and savvy.
Orla Kiely's collaboration with Clarks, the venerated, seven-generation strong, British shoe purveyor, has delivered some refreshing solutions to the stylish footwear problem.
Now is the time to extend "health span" in tandem with life span. Best foot forward, particularly relevant advice to the "experienced economy," workers over 50.
So, put the"slippers and cocoa" image of the boomers to bed, particularly when this "new-old" demographic represents a $15T market.

And while we're at it, we are learning more and more about the plasticity of our brains. Like our bodies, it's a use it or lose it organ and more likely to shrivel from underuse than overuse.
If walking works wonders, then, moving means miracles.
Get on up now.

This blog originally appeared on HuffingtonPost Live Blog 13/3/15     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-gale/walk-this-way_1_b_6739570.html

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Time to rethink ageing. It equals living.

There are many lightbulb moments in life but its not as if a switch gets thrown one day and "OMG, I'm 50, what now?"


And so, last month in London, interest and passion for ageing came together to get some joined up thinking going. The object of this exercise was to probe the edges of The Age Of No Retirement (AONR). Undeniable yet broadly ignored, this age is already upon us.
That the world is getting older and that we are living longer is generally accepted - to a point. That the entire notion and nature of "retirement" is in need of an overhaul, is less generally accepted.

27 provocateurs, 200+ debaters and a sold-out invited audience gathered to address this collective blind spot.

Distorted reality clearly exists. Retirement remains a highly prized while strongly incentivized finale to a lifetime of employment. Meanwhile, how long were going to live is gradually increasing, while expectations for retirement have remained constant.

This is a prickly disconnect. In the same way that the benefits of conventional retirement have been exaggerated, our understanding of what it means to reach 50 years of age - with the potential to live another 40 - has not been taken on board.

If we expect to accrue benefits from the AONR, ageing needs to be repositioned as synonymous with living.  Such thinking challenges every preconceived notion about ageing that we possess.

The debates encouraged no holds barred thinking. How is an ageing work force honestly perceived? How flexible and adaptable can these people be and are the skills acquired over a lifetime actually transferable? What about ageism, degree of digital exclusion and the limits of physical and cognitive functioning?  If the answers to all these questions is  negative then, how do we turn these into positive outcomes?  How do we objectively tap into this fallow, talent pool? Where is it stated that innovation is the exclusive purview of the young?

The fact remains that the only natural resource we have not depleted and is actually increasing is the human capital of our ageing population. We need to tap into these plentiful reserves but the reserves need to ready themselves for this new period of life.
Its clear that unless we can shift attitudes about our ageing selves and bodies, we cannot ascribe value to living over an extended period of time.

If we are serious about making retirement obsolete, public consensus including ownership of life long learning will be necessary.

Jonathan Collie of Trading Times and George Lee of Commonland, are preparing an impact report; we await its publication and its actionable outcomes. In the interim, the Age of No Retirement continues its unrelenting advance...

Deborah Gale

This blog was originally printed on Gransnet 30/10/14
http://www.gransnet.com/forums/blogs/1211384-We-need-to-rethink-ageing?pg=2


















http://www.gransnet.com/forums/blogs/1211384-We-need-to-rethink-ageing?pg=2