We are very impressed with the work of Camilla Cavendish and her book “EXTRA TIME –10 Lessons of an Ageing World” and the concept of what the Japanese call “Young-Old”, and her suggestion that we are more active, connect with others and have meaning to our lives. Evidently half of all 75-year-olds say the TV provides their main form of company and over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (ONS, 2010). A challenge for all us who are Young-Old.
To explore how to become a fully-fledged Young-Old If you would need to have a growth mindset. Scientists have discovered amazing things about the human brain in recent years, and can demonstrate that as you learn new things, your brain creates new “neural pathways” to embed that new learning. The other good news is that age is not a factor in this process; so older people are as capable as younger people when it comes to learning and retaining new skills.
Loneliness and social isolation in the United Kingdom
- Over 9 million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely, but almost two thirds feel uncomfortable admitting to it (British Red Cross and Co-Op, 2016)
- Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (ONS, 2010)
- Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age UK, 2014)
- 63% of adults aged 52 or over who have been widowed, and 51% of the same group who are separated or divorced report, feeling lonely some of the time or often (Beaumont, 2013)
- 59% of adults aged over 52 who report poor health say they feel lonely some of the time or often, compared to 21% who say they are in excellent health (Beaumont, 2013)
- A higher percentage of women than men report feeling lonely some of the time or often (Beaumont, 2013)
- 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month (Victor et al, 2003)
The impact of loneliness on our health
Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience.
Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.
Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%. Source
The impact of an ageing population on the economy
What are the implications of an ageing population? An older population presents many challenges to labour markets, government tax, government spending and the wider economy. Increased life expectancy combined with declining birth rates have caused many to worry about the impact of an ageing population. Frequently, we hear about ‘a demographic time bomb and the fear future generations will struggle to meet an ever-increasing number of retired workers and pension commitments. Source
The longest study of happiness
The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Source
Why we should do this!
Older people can benefit from participation by feeling that they are ‘making a difference’, feeling useful, gaining confidence and skills, and ‘having a say’ on issues that they care about. Benefits for organisations can include getting feedback on service performance and need, improving their relationships with a community, and reaching new people. Communities can benefit from engagement by people having a shared sense of values and commitment.
Engagement is most successful when organisations carefully plan for it, including how to get participation, how to overcome potential barriers for participants and the organisation, and how to feedback to participants as well as decision-makers within the organisation.
Monitoring and evaluation are key to measuring the success of engagement, but very little of this is published. More needs to be done to promote and share best practices, especially among organisations that work for and with older people. Source
A Growth Mindset
Dr Carol Dweck initiator of the growth mindset:
“the brain can be re-modelled into the growth mindset by changing one’s point of view. When a dilemma comes up, take a step back and look at how you are viewing it. Are you looking at the problem with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?
A growth mindset accepts new challenges, strategies a way to solve the challenge and then keeps working until the challenge is solved or achieved. A person with a growth mindset learns from setbacks and keeps moving forward”
We have proposed to a Housing organisation how to empower older people with a growth mindset to have a more fulfilling life, email email@example.com for an update.