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Jeremy Hunt didn’t need his Kichener style message to urge older people back to work, writes Dorothy Byrne, president of Murray Edwards College, in a Guardian opinion piece. She tells the Chancellor “the desperate state of the economy you oversee" is already driving them back into the jobs market. "The prejudice against older workers is an outrage”. If people are fit, still have their marbles and have something to offer, they should be welcomed into the workplace. A former head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, she was 69 when she took on the college role. She could stay in the job after 70 because the late Queen, on 16 February last year, agreed to change the college statutes. “I like to think as a working woman of 95 who also declined to retire, she reached out the hand of friendship to another older female worker. Of course, I realise it was unlikely to have been the Queen herself who made the decision, but a good decision it was. Sadly, she has gone now so royal intervention won’t solve the problem of the UK’s missing workers. That will be fixed only when the prejudices and barriers older workers face are overturned.”
An entrepreneur designing and marketing clothes for women over 50 is appealing to customers to keep her company afloat after two previous investors unexpectedly pulled out of its latest fundraising effort. Hope McKintosh, aged 60, felt older women were ignored by mainstream brands, despite having more disposable income. “I wanted to unashamedly target a 50-plus woman who is cognisant of the changes her body goes through, and design products accordingly”. Now she is asking Hope Fashion’s 20,000 customers to donate £100 or more with the aim of raising £250,000 to head off the firm’s collapse. If the crowdfunding bid fails she will refund their contributions. In the past she has found it hard to attract funding from predominantly male investors.“This is a brand for women, by women, supported by women. I think an awful lot of male investors out there just don’t get it,” says McIntosh. As a woman, I’ve got a 2% chance of being successful at fundraising. As a person of colour, that goes down to 0.2%.”
Employers need to shift attitudes to hiring if they are to to tackle workforce shortages by luring back early retirees, the Chartered Management Institute warns. Its chief executive Anne Francke says they could be lured back if they were offered training and flexible working options, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said on Friday firms would find it difficult to grow if they could not find enough staff. “So, to those who retired early after the pandemic, or haven’t found the right roile after furlough, I say: Britain needs you”, he urged, But the CMI, in a recent survey, found ony 18% of managers were “open to a large extent” to taking on people over 65. That compared with 74% who were similarly inclined to hire 18-34 year olds and 64% when it came to those in the 34-49 age group. Ms Francke says this indicates“cultural and leadership failingsfs in businesses of all sizes, and that needs to change”.
The number of people aged 50-64 in the UK who are unable to, or deterred from returning to work because of long term ill health has risen sharply since the start of the pandemic. That is a key finding in a new analysis by Rest Less, a digital community and advocate for the over 50s. After rising by 19% since early autumn, 2019, the group represents half of all those who are economically inactive due to lasting sickness, or disability. Over 65s not working for the same reasons are up ben an even larger figure (24%) – but they represent a far smaller proportion of the total (9%). Rest Less chief executive Stuart Lewis noted that of the 2.8 million people out of work due to long term sickness, nearly 60% were over 50. “Not only is this a national health issue with thousands of people suffering silently, but it’s increasingly an economic issue too - not least because many of these people want to work in some capacity, if the right opportunities were available to them.”
Over 50s specialist Saga is to launch a new “superbrand for older people”, its boss Euan Sutherland told City AM. The move will see the company adapt its popular print magazine for the digital age with a new website. It aim is to boost advertising revenue and make the publication profitable in its own right. Sutherland pointed that although over-50s own half of the UK’s wealth only 20% of advertising spending is targeted at them.
Exercise “may turn the clock back” by encouraging the epigenic reprogramming of chromosomes in the nuclei of muscle fibre cells, a new study suggests. The research was conducted on mice that were 22 months old – the equivalent of umans aged around 73. They ran on a wheel that was made progressively heavier with the attachment of magnetic weights. The results suggested that exercise reverts muscle fibres to a more youthful state.
Researchers seeking to improve older people’s lives should stop sampling by age and start doing so by needs. To lock individuals into the narrative of age as a vulnerability means inevitably creating ageist stereotypes, according to a useful round up of media prejudices and the language of science published by theconversation.com. It argues that “negative stereotypes of aging mean older adults are less willing to seek help when they need it. Ageism and a lack of age-friendly communications alienate older adults from participating in research about their health. This makes them shy away from seeking care, or participating in research that can benefit them. Those who study successful aging are well aware that age —-as a generalizing variable — does not predict the capacities or needs of older study participants. But then why do we keep using age as a numerical or categorical index?”
A sharp increase in the number of over-60s seeking jobs is reported by a leading recruitment agency. Randstadt UK says the figure is up by about 160% of its long term annual average. Normally it expects some 155 such candidates but in the past 12 months 400 have registered. The firm’s chief executive Victoria Short blames the cost of living crisis. She told HR Magazine: “Many early retirees thought they could afford early retirement a couple of years ago. Not any more”.
More than 50 employers have signed up to a new age friendly scheme within weeks of its launch. Among them are Zurich Insurance UK and Virgin Hotels. The scheme is the brainchild of the Centre for Ageing Better. It comes against a background of serious skills and labour shortages. Companies joining are among an increasing number to have recognised an urgent need ro harness the abilities and experience of older workers, committing to improve working conditions for people in their 50s and 60s.
Drivers over 70 are being urged to sue car hire companies who bar them because of their age. Former Work and Pensions minister Baroness Deborah Stedman-Scott said they should take County Court action on grounds of discrimination, according to the Daily Mirror. She noted: “It is unlawful age discrimination for a car hire company to refuse, on age grounds, to lease a vehicle to an otherwise qualified person”. She said firms would need to show “objective justification” for such a lawsuit to fail. The issue can become a serious problem if older customers turn up at an airport rental counter, for example, and are turned away, disrupting their travel plans.
More than half (55%) of over-50s in a new survey said the cost of living crisis had not affected their holiday plans. And 14% said they planned to spend over £5000 a head on this year’s main getaway. The research was conducted among customers of Saga Holidays and its sister company Titan Travel. Most (66%) aimed to take between two and four trips in 2023 but an extraordinary 25% planned five or more. Women appeared more adventurous than men, being keener to go exploring (51% against 43%) and significantly more likely to travel solo (29% compared with just 12% of men).
A worryingly large proportion of UK retirees harbour regrets about the way they planned their finances before quitting work, according to a new survey. In hindsight almost one third (32%) would have made different choices. Of those, 30% would have sought stronger guarantees of their incomes, 20% would have taken less from their savings in cash upfront, and 19% would have opted for greater flexibility. Fear of running out of money means a guaranteed element of income occupies the minds of most retirees. But those with the biggest pension pots value a guaranteed income most highly.
A new device developed at Stanford Biomechatronics Laboratory ccould help older people with walking difficulties step more quickly on daily tasks. The robotic boot - called an exoskeleton - has a motor that works with calf muscles to give the wearer an extra push. Its impact is personalized thanks to a machine learning based model that was trained through years of work. Treadmill tests habe shown int produces major energy savings and higher walking speeds. The ultimate aim is to help peopl,e with mobility problems.
The number of over-50s working on zero hours contracts has hit its highest since records began in nearly a decade ago. Government statistics show it stood at 296,000 people between July and September this year. Between October and December 2013 the total was 149,000. “The large rise in the number of people aged 50+ working under zero-hours contracts is worrying,” said Stuart Lewis, chief executive of Rest Less, a digital community and advocate for people in their 50s and older, which analysed the data. We know many who have turned to zero hours contracts because they were unable to find a more permanent or structured type of work thanks to age discrimination or a lack of workplace flexibility,” he added. “Others are juggling zero-hours contracts alongside other part-time roles to top up working hours to make ends meet amidst double-digit inflation.”
The Government may offer older people who have given up work what is being called a “midlife MOT” to persuade them back into employment, the Times reports. The process would assess their finances and job opportunities. The news come hard on the heels of a House of Lords report (see next post below) into the reasons for the UK’s current acute skills shortage.
People in their 90s are rebelling against conventional precautions – from ditching emergency buttons to refusing to take paracetamol – as they seek to foster a sense of control over their lives. So says a new study from The Universities of York and Newcastle. Research among a group of 95 years olds found they “used subversive tactics to maintain a level of independence”, often employing humour and secrecy when communicating with their offspring. For example, one denied “having a fall” but admitted to “a slide”. Professor Joy Adamson, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, said.“Being independent came through strongly as a way of explaining their continued passion for life and was strongly equated to feelings of dignity and youth, A bit of risk taking, particularly with their health, was also important in order to keep their autonomy, particularly with family, where children had now become the carer.”
A pension tax threshold is discouraging highly paid, skilled people from continuing to work, according to senior Tories. They are pushing for a review of the limit, following a survey that showed it has prompted one in six doctors to plan early retirement. Former work and pensions secretary Damian Green said the lifetime allowance had been “a perverse incentive” encouraging professional to quit early. And ex pensions minister Baroness Altmann described it as an “ill thought out” policy that costs the Excheqeur more tha it brings in.
Most 50-64 years olds who have left jobs since the pandemic began neither want nor expect to return to work, says a report from the House of Lords Economic Committee. And the majority appears to be reasonably well off. Although they may not yet feel the full impact of the cost of living crisis iot would be unwise to formulate policy on the basis that a significant proportion of them will return to work – or be persuaded back. The report – "Where have all the workers gone?" – suggests three reasons: changes in lifestyle and savings made during the pandemic, and the flexibility of UK pensions.
Exercise won’t improve your ageing memory after all, a new study suggests. Researchers found no evidence to support a widespread belief that running or cycling, for example, combats that irritating inability to instantly recall names. They studied its cognitive effect (with that of mindfulness training – or both combined) on older adults who reported age related memory changes but had not been diagnosed with any kind of dementia. But don’t imagine their findings are licence to become a couch potato. The study’s first author, Professor Eric Lenze, head of the Psychiatry Department at Washington University in St Louis, notes that there is no doubt exercise is beneficial for older adults’ physical health and that mindfulness training reduces stress – which is bad for the brain.
The UK’s labour and skills shortage crisis threatens to deepen further in 2023 unless employers manage to harness the older workforce, warns the Centre for Ageing Better. The employment rate for most workers has reached or exceeded pre-pendemic levels, it notes. But while latest statistics show a small uptick in that for older workers it remains well below its level before Covid laid waste to the economy. “The gap between 35-49s and 50-64s is now at 15 percentage points – 2 percentage points higher than pre-pandemic”, says the Centre. Dr Emily Andrews, its deputy director for work, says: “We want 2023 to be the year that every older worker that wants to work, has the opportunity to show their value and without workplace prejudice or inflexibility standing in their way.”
Vitamin D may cut the risk of dementia by up to one third, according to new research. A team at Tufts University in the US looked at levels of the vitamin in nearly 300 adults participating in a long term study of Alezheimer's that began in 1997. They investigated four regions of the braiin, two of which wedre linked with the disease, one of which was known to be involved in dementia and a fourth which was not thought to have any connection with age related cognitive decline. The vitamin was present in all four - and the more there was, the better the cognitive function. Though they stress more research is needed to establish why, they found that higher concentrations were associated with a 25% - 33% lower risk of dementia or mild cognitive impairment among those participants visiting them for the last time before dying.
Beach bonkbusters may be good for the ageing brain, a new study suggests. Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in the US have discovered that casual reading may help preserve memory skills as people grow older. That appears to include not only the likes of Booker Prize winning novels but thrillers and the kind of fat bestseller that holidaymakers take away with them to while away sunshine hours on the sand or by the hotel pool. “Leisure reading, the kind that really sucks you in, is good for you, and it helps build the mental abilities on which reading depends,” says the study’s senior investigator Liz Stine-Morrow.
A CEO’s perception that older people are less able to grapple with technology has played a part in a successful age discrimination claim. The case arose from the dismissal of a 55 years old finance director. The Employment Tribunal involved heard that the executive had urged trhe woman to “calm down…..don’t let the hormones get out of control”. It decided this was evidence he saw her as older, or menopausal. But there was also evidence a recruiter had been asked to search for a candidate who was more in tune with a young tech startb up company and that the CEO considered older people not to be familiar with IT.
Wearable electronic devices could provide early warnings of atrial fibrillation (AF), a growing problem for older adults, new research has shown. A study in Germany, Poland and Spain involving 882 people aged between 65 and 90 points to a relatively simple way of heading off the risk of strokes. Participants who had not been diagnosed with the heart arrhythmia were provided with wristbands containing sensors linked to an app on their mobile phones. Monitoring detected the abnormal heartbeat in 44 of them within 28 days.
Are current delays in issuing driving licences putting pressure on the Government to toughen rules that allow silver drivers to stayon the road? Is there a threat that ageism could make it more difficult for older adults to use their cars? At present, drivers must renew their licences at 70 and every three years after that. But Emma Ward, the Department for Transport’s director of roads, has suggested to MPs on the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that the laws surrounding motorists’ medical fitness should be re-examined. “We are very concious that the legislation underpinning the driver medical has not been looked at for a very long time. We have an ageing population, we have more people that want to drive for longer, indeed we have more people that hold licences for a much longer period of time,” she said. “We have a significant number of over-seventies who hold licences and want to drive.” However, advocates for older people will be quick to point out that silvers are staying fitter for longer and should not be penalised for delays which are not of their making.
Motoring and cycling retailer Halfords is aiming to combat the current labour market crisis partly by by attracting retirees back to work. The company will also target women in a drive to fill 1000 technician roles over the next 12 months. It says increased inflation has boosted membership of its motoring loyalty club from drivers seeking to meet the rocketing cost of running a car. Chief executive, Graham Stapleton, said: “To help meet that demand, we are today launching a recruitment drive to fill 1,000 new automotive technician roles over the next 12 months. In particular, we are hoping to attract retirees back into the workforce, as well as increasing the number of women in technician roles.”
Couples who feel comfortable about growing older have better sex lives together, according to new research. Many experts have accepted that a positive outlook on ageing can benefit health. Now a study at the University of Missouri has suggested it does the same for sexual drive and satisfaction within relationships. Data from over 1,100 couplea showed those with more positive attitude to ageing had sex more frequently – and enjoyed it more. The link was strong among men and women. It is possible, says lead study author Hanamori Skoblow, “that is people edpect a steep physical decline as an inevitable part of ageing, they could have anticipatory inhibitions”.
As the world increasingly eases COVID restrictions, people over 50 are much more confident about booking trips than they were last summer, a new survey shows. Only 7% of respondents were cautious enough to delay travel until next year, compared with the 22 per cent who said they would wait over 12 months in answer to the same question in July. Many seem prepared to make holiday decisions closer to departure. Nearly half planned to travel in the next three months. In July the shortest lead time was three to six months. Almost three quarters (74%) intended to take more than one holiday this year, with one in five likely to travel more than they did pr-pandemic – and though 48% said cost of living rises were making them cautious about their finances, 39% said they would spend more.
Older people should be involved in the design of technology to ensure they are not excluded from its benefits. So argues social gerontologist Stephanie Hatzifilalithis. This would help to avoid costly barriers to the adoption of technology that “colour and shape” experiences of ageing. She cites the Co-Design movement, which involves different sections of society but has not yet spread widely to silver generations, noting that artificial intelligence, health care technologies, and monitoring and surveillance systems, among others, are increasingly being integrated into their lives. "Researchers, designers and technology developers need to take the initiative and spend time to think through personal bias related to age based stereotypes to design tech with older people”, she says.
Two thirds of people over 50 expect to encounter ageism during job recruitment, according to new research reorted by Personnel Today This worrying statistic comes as separate studies suggest the increased absence of experienced staff from the UK workforce is hampering economic growth. A survey of more than 4000 over 50s by age diversity group 55/Redefined and Reed Talent Solutions found that 70% felt starting a new career would be difficult and 65% thought thought their age “works against them” when looking for a job. Yet almost as many (60%) were open to learning fresh skills, while the vast majority (89%) of those over 55 were prepared to accept a pay cut.
Perhaps unwittingly, the media reinforces ageism, claims a leading advocate for older people. Carole Easton, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, wants age to be added to the Editors’ Code of Practice. She argues that one way the media “stokes ageist attitudes” is through numerous articles celebrating people who manage to conceal their true age by maintaining “youthful” looks, quoting a headline that ran “Ageless beauty. I’m 72 but look 20 years younger – people are stunned when they find out my real age but here’s my secrets.”
Thinking about online dating in your later years? The strength of their handshake may indicate the odds against a winner. It might be the human equivalent of looking in a horse’s mouth. Researchers at Michigan Medicine found a link between lower grip strength and biological age acceleration among men and women. Mark Peterson, lead author of the study and associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at University of Michigan said screening for grip strength could help design interventions to delay or prevent adverse “age related” health problems. “Muscle weakness could be the new smoking”.
Why has there been such a flood of early retirements among the over 50s since the pandemic hit us (see my last post)? An article in the Daily Telegraph attempts to find the answers through interviews with experts and some who have decided it’s worth losing a little income for the sake of getting more from their diminishing years. Stewart Sanderson, head od private clients investment management firm Brooks Macdonald tells the newspaper many of his clients didn’t see their children for long period and if they has properties abroad, opportunities to take advantage of them were thin on the ground. So they began musing on using their wealth rather than sitting on it – to enjoy life while they were still fit. “There’s definitely a view that if I don’t spend this money while I can, what’s the point of having it”, he says.
An "Aging Workforce Strategy" is needed to stop people quitting before retirement and tackle UK employees’ staff shortage headaches, argues a new report. It says thousands of over 50s in poor health have left jobs early because of “ageism and ableism”, plus insufficient support from their employers or the NHS. Compared with before the pandemic around 100,000 people aged 50-64 have quit for long term health reasons, most citing stress, mental issues or musculoskeletal problems that have caused them to cut their hours or stop working. But the report, published by cross-party think tank Demos in partnership with the Physiological Society says most have not done so from choice. One participant in the study said: "My decision to leave work was devastating. I was resentful about having to leave, but felt I had no other option." Among the report's recommendations are better access to occupational health services, more investment in rsearch to weaken the link between ill health and older age and the appointment of an “Older People’s Commissioner” to push through the strategy .
Staying engaged with other people can help counter frailty, according to an expert in geriatric medicine. Having a reason to ghet up in the morning helps yhou stay active”, says Dr Linda Fried, dean of Columbia’s School for Public Health. Frailty in old age – more prevalent in women - is not inevitable. Doctors can diagnose it and provide treatment to prevent and sometimes reverse it. It can be caused partly by loss of muscle mass, which is related to aging. Two of the most critical ways to prevent it, says Dr Fried, are exercise and diet. “Walking and resistance training with weights are similar to the benefits of getting a car tuned up: every part of one’s physiology runs better.” It is also important to eat foods such as fish, chicken, vegetables, low dairy products and whole grains each day, rather than carbohydrates.
People in their sixties and seventies who lift weights once or twice a week have a nine to 22 per cent staves off the risk of dying from any cause except cancer, research suggests. It can be even more effective when combined with heart lung exercise such as running or cycling. Sybil Kretzmer, interviewed for the i website, says that at 68 the arthritis in her thumb was so painful she couldn’t lift a plate of food across the kitchen. But two years later, after joining a gym, she can shoulder press with 10 kilogram dumbbells and deadlift 50 kilos. “I never thought I’d be a weightlifter, but now I feel a sense of euphoria when I finish a set”, she says. And she no longer takes painkillers for the arthritis, crediting a strengthening of muscles around the offending joint.
It’s a treat when the grandkids come to visit – but it’s also lovely when they go home again. Social contact is important to everybody’s wellbeing but older people in particular need periods of solitude afterwards to recharge their batteries. Researchers at the University of Zurich studied 118 people over 65 living in German speaking regions of Switzerland. Participants used an app to log the duration of spoken social interaction. All other time, including sleep, was considered solitude. They found a relationship between the length of the former and that of the latter. Though they admit their work had limitations, it suggests older people regulate time spent in solitude or interacting with others “according to shifts in the levels of their need to belong and their need to conserve energy”.
Representing older people in advertisements is not the only way to grab the silver market, according to research. In a study with ITV, marketing platform System1 investigated whether there is a “diversity dividend” when older people see themselves in ads. It found that dividend was far rarer than with young people. Only five out of 56 such ads played to a sample group of over-55s produced an uplift in emotional response. “Older people may be easy to reach, but they’re harder to pleased”, say the researchers.
It may not last 12 months and it may not be defined by the academic calendar, but the so called “grey gap year” is steadily becoming an alternative to cruising for retired baby boomers. The Guardian interviewed several of those takings long breaks in their 60s. They include a couple on a five month trip backpacking around Europe, America and Australia, deciding where to go next a week in advance, and not planning to return home until the money runs out.
The pandemic has made silver travellers more caurious than the young about foreign travel according to new research by the travel trade body ABTA. It shows that the proportion of 18-24 years old who holidayed abroad in the past 12 months was 17 percentage points higher than that of the 55-64 age group and 16 percentage points above that of the over 65s. The equivalent figures for the 25-34 age category were 15 and 14 percentage points respectively. In 2029, the last pre-Covid year the respective equivalent figures were only seven and eight percentage points. ABTA notes: “Generally older people have been a little more hesitant about travelling than younger age groups since 2020, due to higher concerns about catching COVID-19”.
Men still age faster than women. But although reduction in smoking has narrowed the gap, that is not entirely the result of lifestyle choices. Those are the main conclusions of a study by Finnish researchers. They looked at younger and older adults, including opposite sex twins who had grown up in the same environment and shared half of their genes. The male sibling was about one year biologically older than his sister. The researchers believe the difference may be explained but the beneficial effects of the female sex hormone oestrogen on health and – to a small extent – men’s larger body size.
Three quarters of UK over 65s with main bank accounts want face to face banking. Research shows they want to be able to undertake at least one of ten banking tasks in person, at a branch, or a Post Office or at building society premises. Half want to deposit cash or cheques, 38% want to withdraw cash. Other activities include starting bereavement procedures - cited by 29% - opening a new or additional account (28%) and amending or cancelling direct debits or standing orders (25%). Though half of older people now bank online, Age UK is calling for improvements in the new Financial Services and Markets Bill to protect older customers by ensuring their needs are met. The Charity says it “ believes that there are still significant numbers of older people who are digitally excluded or unable to manage their finances online because of health issues or a lack of knowledge or confidence. Others are unable to meet the costs of having a broadband connection and buying the hardware – likely to be an increasing problem as the cost of living crisis deepens."
The World Health Organisation has named its first “Healthy Ageing 50”, an international list of individuals who have contributed significantly towards improving the lives of older people. Their work has ranged from tackling ageism to teaching school pupils about older generations and and transforming long term care. Part of the UN’s Decade of Healthy Ageing initiative the list’s compilers looked, for example, for people who had engaged locally and nationally to promote coherence in Government policy, leant on businesses and harnessed new technologies. Among them are Helena Herklots (pictured), Older Peoples Commissioner for Wales and Paul MdGarry, head of the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub.
Is fear of embarrassment the main factor deterring more older women from running? The question arises from an analysis of the age range of competitors in the London Marathon. It showed that the proportion of female runners over 50 completing the gruelling 26.2 miles had increased by 65% since 2018. And the number aged between 60 and 69 had risen by an astonishing 91%. Overall, the 50-70s are the fastest growing group Amon g those registering for the race. Event director Hugh Brasher conjectures that many felt able to give it a try when the race was staged virtually in 2020, because of Covid. Having done so, they felt ready for the real thing.
A short physical function test can help specialists predict the the risk of heart problems in over-65s, according the new research. Walking speed, the time it takes to get out of a chair without using hands and balance while standing can be signposts to the likelihood of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes independently of traditional indicators such as smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. During an eight year study by experts at the US Johns Hopkins medical institution 930 participants who took the Short Physical Performance Test experienced one or more cardiac events. Those with low physical function scores were 47% more likely to suffer at least one such event, while intermediate scorers had a 25% higher risk.
Anxiety over the soarung cost of living appears to be reversing what was dubbed the “great resignation” prompted by Covid. Over-50s who left their jobs during or since the pandemic are increasingly considering returning to work to cope with the rising price of fuel and other necessities, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest. A survey conducted in August - long before the recent plunge in the value of the £ - found nearly three quarters (72%) of those in their 5os were mulling over working again, compared with 58% in February. And of them, two thirds cited the need to up their incomes. Only 38% of people between 50 and 54 said they were confident that their retirement provisions would meet their needs.
Down in the dumps? Fretting about the state of the economy? Fed up with life in general? No kindred spirit to share a rant with? Unhappiness, depression or loneliness could age you faster than smoking or even some diseases. That is the claim by researchers at Stanford University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. They have created a digital model of ageing that reveals the impact of psychological health. “Your body and soul are connected”, said Fedor Galkin, co-author of the study – and lead scientist at Hong Kong startup Deep Longevity.
Big data could help scientists in the US gain new insights into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease by looking at the electronic medical records of huge numbers of sufferers. A team of researchers funded by the National Institute on Aging may have already discovered key differences in pathology and clinical characteristics between men and women afflicted with the condition. Using an advanced data mapping computer algorithm they analysed the anonymous records of 44,288 people in a new bid to discover more about the complex mix of traits, risk factors and other disorders behind the its onset. They found diagnoses of certain other medical conditions were more widespread among male sufferers – while some were more prevalent among women..
Most workers over 50 miss out on promotion, survey shows
Almost three quarters (72%) of employees aged 51-60 believe they have been overlooked for promotion, a new survey shows, and 41% of those in their fifties feel there is a lack of opportunity to progress. The staggering evidence of the way experience is wasted by UK businesses comes from recruitment specialists Robert Walters and Totaljobs. Pessimism about advancement among the over 50s “poses the risk of over 15 years’ untapped potential as workers’ careers stagnate and their amassed knowledge and experience isn’t utilised”, the researchers warn. With two thirds of employees reportinga skills shortage last year, the older segment of our workforce could add value and boost output. “If progression paths are not made clear, 45% or workers in their fifties would look for a role elsewhere”.
The Body Shop is rebranding its best selling “Drops of Youth” as part of a cultural shift away from promoting products as “anti aging”. The move follows research that found women felt the nature of the beauty industry had negative impacts on their perception of self worth – a problem largely down to behaviour such as air brushing and unrealistic claims. Global brands development director Laura Keane says: “This was really a catalyst to encourage us to look at our portfolio and see where we could improve the creative and the language – not just the images we put out, but what our products do and what they are named.”
Image by Ian Kirk via Wikipedia Creative Commons
Reluctance to use the internet means older people may miss out on money saving deals worth almost £1000 a year, according to a new survey. The Vodafone UK Foundation found nearly half (45%) of over 65s confessed they didn’t feel entirely comfortable about shopping or managing their affairs online. Drilling down, its study suggests they could be spending £97 more than necessary on clothes, £158 on entertainment, £184 on travel and £156 on state entitlements. Meanwhile 38% of those still a little uneasy about using the internet feel ignored when that is the default option, with 34% feeling stressed when asked to go online to book a doctor’s appointment, for example. The Foundation has teamed up with Independent Age – with the backing of broadcaster Gloria Hunniford – to launch a new resource aimed at helping them gain digital skills.
The UK is “haemorraging talent” because employers are failing to provide support from women going through the menopause, MPs claim in a new report. Highly skilled and experience women aged around 50 are being pushed out of work, says the cross party women and equalities committee. They urge the Government to amend the Equality Act, making the menopause a “protected characteristic” and introducing a duty for companies to make reasonable allowances for menopausal employees.
The late Labour politician Tony Benn once calculated he had drunk enough tea to float the QE2. Now researchers have found two or more cups a day can help you live longer. The long standing British habit is “modestly associated” with lower mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and strokes. Even at “higher levels of intake” tea can be part of a healthy diet.
Britain’s performance in dealing with its ageing population will be compared against that of other major economies in new research to be carried out over the coming year. The International Longevity Centre UK will set up the Healthy Ageing and Prevention Index, which will track how countries across the G20 are introducing preventative medicine to head off health problems and tackling health inequalities as the proportion of over 50s grows. It will also be designed to show how they promote behaviour to keep people healthier for longer – such as frequent exercise – and to provide opportunities for sharing best practice. Research by the think tank shows that by 2050, 40% of the G20’a populaton will be over 50.
Playing tennis or other racquet sports reduces the risk of death in older adults - from any causes – by 16%, according to a study by the US National Cancer Institute. Running lowers it by 15%. But in keeping with a tide of other recent evidence, all physical activity, be it golf, walking, cycling, swimming or any aerobic exercise – also helps keep the grim reaper at bay. Researchers studied data from 272,550 people aged 59 – 82. How much do you need to exert yourself? Americans are recommended to engage on 1hr 30mins to 2hrs 30mins of “vigorous intensity” aerobic physical activity each week. But even those who do less can cut their risk of death by 5%.
Flopping infront of the TV - and similarly passive, sedentary behaviour - can increase the danger of dementia for over 60s. according to researchers at the Universities of Southern California and Arizona. And worryingly, this is true even if at other times you are physically active, they conclude. But the risk is lower for those who spend their ouch time on computers of reading, "It isn't the time spent sitting, per se, but the type of sedentary activity performed during leisure time that impacts dementia risk," said study author David Raichlen, professor of biological sciences and anthropology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. We know from past studies that watching TV involves low levels of muscle activity and energy use compared with using a computer or reading, And while research has shown that uninterrupted sitting for long periods is linked with reduced blood flow in the brain, the relatively greater intellectual stimulation that occurs during computer use may counteract the negative effects of sitting."
Why have so many over-50s left the workforce since the onset of the pandemic? In a bid to find answers the Guardian newspaper put a call out to readers. Many said the pandemic had played a part in their decisions either to quit permanently or temporarily. And many cited disillusionment with management or the nature of their work, blaming increased stress and feeling undervalued. Some corroborated the view of John Lewis boss Dame Sharon White who, recognising that those parting were mostly in their 50w, saw the so called “great resignation” as “the life reappraisal”. They had condluded that living more meaningfully – or simply – was more important than a well paid job.
Amid widespread concern that older people are reluctant to return to the labour market, Boots has been recognised for its commitment to age inclusivity. The company has become to first health and beauty retailer to receive Age Inclusive accreditation from age diversity organisation 55/Redefined. It says more than a quarter (27%) of its 51,000 employees are over 50. The company has also won accreditation from an independent panel Menopause Friendly, which aims “to change mindsets and attitudes towards menopause”, making it “as easy to talk about as the weather”. Four in five of Boots’ staff are women.
Nearly half (43%) of baby boomers hitting pension age have drawn all or some of their tax free lump sums, according to a new survey. Just under a quarter (24%) of those who have put it straight into the bank, 7% used it to pay everyday bills and just over 4% splashed the cash on good holidays. The study - of people aged 58-75 - has been published by Dunstan Thomas, who provide business services and technology solutions to the financial service market. . It shows that a further 13% used it to pay off credit card and other unsecured debts, one in ten for home improvements, 9% to increase their mortgage repayments, 8% to invest in stocks and shares and another 8% to invest in property. One third (33%) derived over 80% of total retirement income from pensions (including the state pension), one in five were set to rely – or already relying on pensions for their entire incomes. And other sources provided an average of 29% of all non pension income. Nearly half of those surveyed were still working when the research was carried out in January, and 31% wanted to work on past state retirement age. The survey notes ii is “generally agreed” the boomer generation was born between 1946 (the first atomic bomb) and 1963 (wide availability of the pill).
The Government must do more to encourage over-50s who retired during the pandemic back into work, says John Lewis boss Dame Sharon White. Reversing the exodus through flexible retiremenht plans and skills courses could help avert the threatened recession. “Regardless of what has happened coming out of Covid, if the labour market is that tight, if we continue to have far fewer people in work, looking for work – you’ve inevitably got more inflation and more wage inflation.”
Keeping moving in a way that’s appropriate for your age is absolutely critical to your healthy lifespan. So says Jane Fonda – now approaching 85 – in an interview with Vogue. The Oscar winning star and activist is taking part in a campaign to promote H&M Move, the Swedish clothing giant’s new brand designed to make stylish and technically innovative work out clothes more accessible. Fonda says she likes the philosophy behind the firm’s “Movewear” because it’s “not about sports or being athletic. It’s about moving in a way that keeps your body healthy and strong”. (Image courtesy H&M).
Older adults who eat large amounts of red and processed meat increase their risk of eventually suffering heart problems due to clogged arteries, new research concludes. But this doesn’t apply to chicken, eggs or fish. Meat consumption has long been linked to bowel cancer. The NHS recommends you eat no more than 70 grams a day (cooked weight).
Despite more attention being given to older workers and their rights, this article shows that the stereotypes are simply not true and celebrates the value that older, ‘vintage’ workers can bring. Read more
An exhaustive new study has concluded it is likely air pollution contributes to older people’s diminished ability to remember, think and reason. The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants reviewed nearly 70 previous studies of their effects on cognitive decline and dementia. It also examined some aspects of the earlier evidence. The authors say they” think there is a strong case for the effects of air pollutants on the cardiovascular system having a secondary effect on the brain.”
To call it “the great unretirement” may be an overstatement. But evidence shows older people are showing signs of a return to the jobs market after a trend in the opposite direction during the pandemic. And it is clear that inflation and rising prices are partly to blame. Analysis by Rest Less, an online community and advocate for over-50s, showed significant increases in economic activity among over 65s during the year to May. In a poll of 500 retired members Rest Less found almost one third (32%) would consider returning for work. When that 32% were asked why, 32% cited mental and social stimulation and 12% the rising cost of of living. A further 8% said it would be to top up their pensions and 4% gave the potential driver as a mixture of all these reasons.
The number of baby boomers wanting to work past state pension age has risen sharply over the past five years, a new survey shows. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests some are being forced out of full time work in their late 50s and early 60s. Meanwhile half expect to spend around the same in retirement on a basket of of items including cars, holidays, and eating out. The research comes from business services and technology company Dunstan Thomas, which conducted a similar survey in 2017. Since then the proportion of those who anticipate carrying full or part time – or who are already doing so to supplement their incomes – has increased from 56% to 71%. The survey’s authors say its findings “have considerable implications for employers, many of whom are now struggling to recruit and retain the skills and expertise offered by older workers in the wake of the pandemic”. They found 17% of boomers were planning to downsize “to part-fund their dreams in retirement”, against 8% planning equity release. Of these, 7% said it was to afford travelling, and/or holiday expenses and 5% to release money in anticipation of long term care bills.
In what may come as relief to over-65s relishing the thought of a chilled glass or two of rose on a hot summer evening, scientists have found you can demolish the best part of a bottle without damaging your heath. A study published in the Lancet suggests that while the under 40s should curb their drinking drastically to avoid health risks, safe consumption for people aged 40-64 ranges between a half to two standard drinks a day - a standard drink being 100ml. But the over 65s could stretch to a little over three, or just short of a half bottle per person. All this must be seen, of course, in light of other research that suggests booze is irredeemably harmful and we should stay off it altogether.
Thickness of the brain may not be such a bad thing. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered it could protect you against acute confusion after successful surgery - such as a hip or knee replacement.. They note that post-operative delirium occurs in up to 51% of patients aged 65 and over, increasing their risk of death, institualisation and long term dementia. Superior memory function among a group of older adults called “SuperAgers”, may indicate they are less likely to suffer from it. A frontal part of their brains known as the anterior mid-cingulate cortex is thicker than other people’s. People less well endowed can increase that thickness through six months of aerobic exercise. And even for those who don't - or can't - the research suggests it may be possible to develop cognitive tests to assess patients' risk.
Thousands of women have missed out on the cash rich retirement that has become a stereotype suggesting. Women’s pension pots in particular are on average only one third the value of men’s. And more than one third (37%) of women between 56 and 64 in the UK have no private pension at all. In Saga Magazine, Anna Moore describes some of the ways divorced, single and widowed women make ends meet – from dog walking to running dance classes.
Dance as a way of enhancing the lives of older people will be a principal theme of an academic book to be published later this year. The book promises to focus on the development of an arts based programme for older adults and understanding its impact on ageing, social inclusion and care. It includes a section on Sharing Dance, an outreach community initiative by Canada’s National Ballet School. This offers free dance programmes across all age groups and includes sessions for seniors designed to improve quality of life and create communities.
Whether it’s birdwatching, studying French politics or the history of Uruguayan football, accumulating expert knowledge can improve the memory, suggests new research from Toronto’s Baycrest Health Sciences suggests. Far from merely representing the obesssions of geeks, such knowledge builds mental scaffolding that helps us separate items similar enough to create confusion, such as the difference between seabirds or warblers. Dr Erik Wing, a postdoctoral fellow at Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute (RRI) and the lead author of the study, describes it as “an area of strength in older adults that we may be able to harness to mitigate age related memory decline and improve quality of life for this group."
Image: Northern Gannet by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay
Nearly one third (32%) of the UK’s 55-66 year olds have taken early retirement since the onset of the pandemic, according a survey by Canada Life. A further 11% have partially retired and 16% have reduced their hours. When asked why, a quarter of those questioned said they were seeking a better work/life balance, while 21% had decided their jobs were not worth the stress. Other reasons – not necessarily connected with Covid, include health problems and sufficient wealth to remove the need to work. More than one in three of them (35%) were drawing on savings or investments to boost their incomes – but an overwhelming 80% said they did not regret their decisions.
Improving vision may have a help fend off dementia, according to recent research. Poor eyesight has been added to the list of “modifiable risk factors” – including smoking and high blood pressure - that can prevent as many as 62% of cases, it suggests. Of that total, eye examinations, glasses and cataract operations can have only a tiny proportional impact, but the study’s lead author says they represent relatively easy and inexpensive solutions.
The number of over-65s in the populations of England and Wales outnumber those under-15s for the first time in 2021, according to the results of the 2021 census. Their numbers had soared by 20% in a decade. North Norfolk was the area with the biggest proportion – 33.4%, up from 28.8% ten years earlier. And Richmondshire in North Yorkshire showed the fastest increase in the age group, rising from 17.5% to 23.55% over the decade.
Following reports that rail operators are planning to phase out paper tickets and BT is to dispense with landlines, concern is emerging that older people with limited or non existent online skills may become increasingly isolated. Citing one vivid example of the impact of technology’s relentless march, Ros Altmann, Conservative peer and former pensions minister, recently described being contacted by an elderly woman who no longer drove to a nearby park because she was unable to download the required parking app.
As young as you feel? There could be some truth in it. Researchers in Israel have discovered in a study that subjective age was more important than chronological age when it came to recovering from fractures and strokes. They suggest clinicians consider evaluating the former when designing rehabilitation programmes. Professor Amit Shrira of Bar-Ilan University, says: "Those who feel younger can maintain their health and functioning for longer periods, and as the current study shows, can recuperate better from disability. Therefore, by perceiving themselves to age successfully people may preserve a healthy and vigorous lifestyle.”
A simple balance test, in which older adults are asked to stand on one leg for 10 seconds, could be included in routine health checks, say members of an international research team. They found that inability to do so in mid to later life is linked to a near doubling of the risk of death within the next 10 years. Participants in tests led by a clinic in Brazil were asked to place the front of the raised foot on the back of the opposite lower leg, while keeping their arms by their sides and gazing straight ahead. They were allowed three attempt with each leg. Failure to balance for the 10 seconds became more common with age. Only 5% of of 51-55 year olds failed, rising to slightly less than 18% of 61-65 year olds and nearly 37% of 66-70 years olds.
The old game of rock, scissors, paper could be part of mind and body exercises designed to stem the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, research in Japan suggests. Researchers at the University of Tsukuba believe a novel technique called Synapsology may prevent cognitive decline. Older people are asked to perform physical tasks, such as passing coloured balls clockwise or counter clockwise, simultaneously with problem solving involving words, numbers and recognition. A study of adults aged between 65 and 77 found that after eight weeks of twice weekly, 60 minute sessions, those taking part in this “dual-task” experiment showed significant improvements in motor ability and cognitive function.
One fifth of all adults fear they could be working well into their 70s, according to a new survey. Just over one third (34%) thought it possible they could retire early, 62% of those hoping to do so were saving towards that goal each month and downsizing was part of the plan for 21%. But over half of all respondents said they had not yet thought about putting money aside for when they retire.
A damaging combination of plummeting stock markets and high inflation could mean many pensioners draining their retirement savings earlier than they expected, according to a Daily Telegraph analysis. It quotes broker Interactive Investor, which says its over-60s saves took 8% more from their pension pots in January and February this year than the average amount over the past four years. Because investors are taking out more while markets are falling they will need to sell more shares to generate the same amount of cash. So they will have fewer shares left when markets rebound.
Testosterone replacement appears to be a safe way to treat a condition caused by deficiency of the male sex hormone, according to the most comprehensive analysis of the therapy so far, published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity journal. The findings suggest men given testosterone to tackle hypogonadism are at no greater risk of cardiovascular events including heart attacks and strokes in the short to medium term than those who are not. Hypogonadism can cause sexual disfunction, weakening of bones and muscle and reduced quality of life. It can be a result of ageing, obesity and diabetes. But because of conflicting messages about its safety may have persuaded many men to steer clear of the treatment.
Scientists in Cambridge have discovered a process that drives a “catastrophic” change in blood composition that explains why it’s often all downhill when you reach 70. Ultimately, they believe, the discovery could lead to therapies to slow ageing and prevent previously healthy people quickly becoming becoming frail. The process increases the risk of blood cancers and anaemia and impairs the effectiveness of white blood cells to resist infection. But – more excitingly – the researchers think similar changes could take place in other orgains throughout the body – from the skin to the brain.
Over 800 older adults in New York State are being provided with robot companions to combat loneliness and social isolation. Now the sort of robots that move about, but voice operated smart technology designed to interact with people living alone. ElliQ, developed by Israel based Intuition Robotics, and distributed by the New York State Office for the Aging, has been described as a more pro-active version of digital assistants such as Alexa or Siri. Through artificial intelligence it builds up context in relationships with its users, building information as the base for follow up conversations. It is designed to provide support through daily check ins, medical reminders, help with wellness goals and physical activity. Claimed to have shown “unprecedented engagement levels with older adults”, its users have an average of 20 daily interactions”. (Image shows the third generation of Amazon's Echo Dot, smart speaker with with Alexa)
Baby boomers in the US have a gift: “the perspective to say, loudly and clearly, that what we are living through now is nuts”. That’s the view of Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar in environmental studies at Middlebury College and the author most recently of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened. "There's another society, within living memory, that more or less worked. And saying so is not nostalgia, it’s a highly useful act of witness”.
A drive has been launched to make Britain's High Streets more silver friendly. The International Longevity Centre says retailers could "thrive, not just survive" by transforming the way the retailers sector see and serve the older customer. Launching a two year project with this aim the think tank's director David Sinclair said: "“The demography of the high street customer is ageing, and retailers and planners have long failed to adapt or recognise the diversity of older consumers. “Older people complain that their needs are ignored. Public toilets have been closed, cafes and shops blare loud music, public spaces and shops rarely have anywhere to sit and public transport is poor or non-existent. Our towns and cities are failing us all."
Bending down to tighten your laces may be a little more difficult than it once was - but the trick is to keep running. In the view of a 99 year old man from Virginia, competing at the National Senior Games in Florida: “My consistent advice is to keep moving, keep moving, keep moving, and have a little luck.” And as a 90 year old woman from Maryland, also interviewed by the New York Times at the Games, observed: running is “just what I do. I feel good when I run, and when I don’t run it feels like I’m missing something. “Run every day, even if it’s a short distance. I can’t run very much now, but when I can’t run anymore I’ll still walk.”
Supplementing your diet with sea squirts could reverse some of the effects of aging – including grey hair - a new study suggests. The marine organisms, which can be served raw, are known as meongage in Korea and hoya in Japan. The contain plasmalogens, which are important to body processes but decrease in quantity as people age. Scientists have found that boosting them may not just stop cognitive decline but reverse it. And mice fed with them grew new, thicker black hair.
Half of all women aged 45 or older worry that they will need to keep working beyond pension age to make ends meet, according to research. A survey by Workingwise.co.uk, an advice site for older workers, found 53% of them feared their pension would bot be sufficient to allow them financial independence. Many had taken career breaks which could impact the amount they receive. A big majority (83%) had worked part time for at least a year, and 27% had done so for more than a decade.
Hope of reversing hearing loss in old age has been raised by scientists in the US. They have found the genetic "master switch" that controls the development of crucial cells that transmit. These so called "hair cells" release neurotransmitter chemicals that transmit sound signals to the brain via the auditory nerve. This could eventually lead to treatment that would reprogramme stem cells or other cells in the ear to replace those that die. In Britain, some 40% of 50 year olds and 70% of over 70s suffer some degree of hearing loss.
(Accompanying image by James Musallam via Wikimedia Creative Commons)
Fast walking takes years off your age, new research indicates. Scientists had already shown that a quick walking speed was a very strong predictor of longevity. They have now found evidence that that a brisk pace causes an increase in leucocyte telomere length – a measure of your biological age. Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that protect the ends of chromosomes from damage. Researchers defined a brisk pace as more than 4 miles per hour and slow as less than 3 miles per hour.
Looking for something to add a little zest to retirement? Andy Walters became a ski instructor at 60 - teaching classes to bend their knees when many people his age have trouble bending theirs. He wasn't exactly a newcomer to the slopes mind. His initiation was in Austria at the age of 11 and a teacher at school in the Highlands organised weekend trips to the Glenshee ski area. But work and raising a family caused him to break from the sport for 20 years, picking it up again after moving to Scotland. He took his first instructor course in the Cairngorms and answered a Facebook request, from a company teaching children to ski, for someone to replace an instructor who injured herself.
It has been dubbed the "silver exodus". Since the pandemic, older workers have been leaving the labour force in droves, inevitably contributing to rising prices as employers are forced to up pay or offer signing on bonuses to attract replacements. Some 300,00 more people aged between 50 and 65 are not "economically inactive" – meaning they are neither in jobs or looking for them. You might have thought they were predominantly the most comfortably off. They do appear to have been opting for early retirement – but new, detailed analysis shows the biggest increase since the summer of 2019 has been among low to middle income earners less likely to have been able to work from home.
Seven hours sleep is the ideal amount for staying sharp as we age, new research suggests. A study of almost 500,000 people aged between 38 and 73 found too little or too much was linked with worse cognitive performance and mental health, including anxiety and depression. One of the scientists who tok part in the research, Prof Barbara Sahakian from Cambridge University's department of psychiatry, said: "For every hour that you moved away from seven hours you got worse." A good night's sleep was important at all ages but particularly as people aged. "I think it is as important as getting exercise."
More Canadians are now nearing retirement than the number entering the workforce, according to new census results. This is already one cause of labour shortages, says Laurent Martell, director of the demography centre at Statistics Canada. The population now has a larger proportion of 55-64 year olds and it does of those aged 15 to 24. In 1966 there were 100 of the former for every 200 of the latter. Last year the ratio was 81 to 100.
A 60 year old woman was dismissed by a holiday park company because she was not getting enough likes on social media. The case is cited in an article in HR News suggesting hybrid working models during the pandemic have thrown up evidence of a widened "generational skills gap". Are older employees constantly required to up their online productivity, work virtually and take part in remote meetings and presentations "cognisant of these technological advances – and are they able to keep up?
Just as increasing evidence seems to show staying active can prolong your life comes a new study that suggests chilling out could have the same effect. Scientists at Harvard have found that people who live longest have lower levels of neural activity – anything from tapping your feet to puzzling over a crossword - compared with those who die younger. They studied brain tissue from cognitively healthy people between the ages of 60 and 100 and found those who lived longest had triggered fewer genes related to brain excitement. Those who lived to 100 had significantly higher levels of a protein called REST in their brain cells.
How does Sir David Attenborough do it? At 95 he is still as active as some 60 year olds. He is still drawing huge audiences with his latest BBC series, The Green Planet. On a shoot he is still prepared to travel, get up early and work through the day. Is his energy genetic? Or does it perhaps stem from a combination of focus, his undiminished passion for nature and the fact that he is still doing something with a purpose?
(Accompanying image courtesy www.dfat.gov.au via Wikimedia Creative Commons)
Former banker Irini Tzortzoglou entered Masterchef "out of boredom" after retiring. She had first learned to cook in Crete, where she was born. Not wanting to embarrass herself on television, she trained for a year, not just by mugging up on what was happening in Michelin starred Greek restaurants but physically – to make sure she could cope with running around kitchens during the competition. Since winning in 2019 she has immersed herself in Greek food and has written a cookery book, Under the Olive Tree. An inspiration for over-60s, she talks to Emine Saner in the Guardian.
Age Scotland has launched a guide for the media on how to avoid "ageist and negative stereotypes" in news reports, articles and, choice of images and speeches. The charity, which says the initiative should also help politicians, commissioned Scotinform to research things that irritate over-50s. It found the term "elderly" - and "elders" - should bne avoided. It was approved by a mere 7% of respondents. "Senior citizens" (36%) was most acceptable, followed by "older adults" and older people (21% and 20% respectively".
Almost two thirds (65%) of retirees feel ignored by consumer brands. The tech and start up sector in particular has chronically overlooked this big, growing and important section of the market. So says Hannah Thomson, founder and CEO of The Joy Club, a UK based initiative aimed at tackling loneliness among older people through online access to over 50 events per month - from art classes and live music to lectures and creative writing workshops – and a community artea where they can make friends.
Silver travellers are more likely to take a trip this summer than young people, according to a survey by the European Travel Commission. In total, 77% of Europeans plan to travel between this month and September, though only one four have fully booked. Over half (56%) intend to visit another European country and 31% plan to travel domestically. Travel intentions rise from 69% of people in Gen Z (aged 18-24) to 83% of baby boomers (aged 55 and over). Older travellers are more interested in staycations than younger people - 39% compared with 22% – and are particularly keen on trips that involve culture or history or relaxing by the sea. Among all Europeans, preference for air travel was up 7% compared with a similar survey at the end of last year – but that increases to 26% among UK consumers.
An experiment on elderly, obese mice may have paved the way to healthier life in old age for humans. Scientists in Louisiana found that a recently discovered chemical compound helped the animals lose fat and weight, reduce age related inflammation and increase physical activity. If the treatment proved successful in humans it could counteract a progressive muscle disorder associated with falls, strokes, heart disease and premature death. The mice in the study shed more than 20% of their fat, upped their muscle mass by an average 8% and increased their strength by 40%.
A device that makes it harder to breathe could help over-50s exercise for longer. Many people in middle age or older find it hard to comply with the persistent barrage of advice to get healthier by upping their physical activity. Now researchers in the US have found that inspiratory muscle strength training can make it easier for them to keep fit. IMST involves inhaling through a handheld device that increases resistance to the breath. After using it to take 30 breaths a day for six weeks a group of over-50s showed a 12% improvement in the time they spent on a treadmill without becoming exhausted.
England is becoming a more challenging country to grow old in. That is the verdict of the Centre for Ageing Better in its latest annual comprehensive review. A financially secure and healthy later life is getting increasingly unlikely for millions of people, it says. The state pension is among the worst in Europe, pension age has risen and employment among those nearing retirement has dipped to its lowest level since 2016. Life expectancy has fallen and varies by up tp ten years depending on where people live – and over 17 years in the time we are likely to live without a disabling illness. Nearly one in five homes headed by someone aged 60 or over is a health risk. And the number of men aged 65 or over living along rose by 67% between 2000 and 2019.
Scientists in have discovered a a drug with the potential to head off the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Neuro-Bio, a spin off from Oxford University, believes it has identified a molecule that triggers damage at the centre of the brain – damage that can occur as long as 10 – 15 years before eventual sufferers experience symptoms. Their drug, given as a nasal spray is expected to undergo trials in humans.
Older people who have been organised, responsible and hard working in their jobs may adjust more successfully than others when compelled to retire or made redundant, according to a new study. The authors suggest the trait of conscientiousness could act as a "psychological buffer" making them more proactive in finding new leisure activities. But among healthy people who retired early, extraversion may create lower satisfaction with life, income and leisure. The researchers also looked at other psychological traits but say evidence of their effects remain inconclusive. However, they suggest their findings could help guide "targeted interventions and policies to boost the well-being of ageing adults".
Only one in five employers take into account menopausal symptoms in performance reviews of female staff, according to a new survey. The menopause begins at an average age of 51. Employment law specialists at Irwin Mitchell, which commissioned the YouGov research, warn businesses could lose skilled workers if they continue to disregard how symptoms such as joint pain, hot flushes, fatigue and anxiety can dramatically impact performance in the workplace. Yet only 13% of companies employing a high proportion of women had menopause policies, the survey found.
A charity aiming to help disabled people stay mobile has been awarded £1.5m in new Government funding. Driving Mobility coordinates driving and mobility assessment centres across England. It will use the money to help people keep on the move after they have been advised to stop driving – or if they cannot learn to drive because of their disabilities - offering them advice on alternatives such as powered wheelchairs, community transport and local services.
Dogs are being studied in the US to see whether they can provide clues to tackling age related health problems in humans. Many of the conditions and diseases that afflict older dogs – such as arthritis, heart and kidney disease and failing hearing ad eyesight – are among those suffered by older people. Scientists behind the Dog Aging Project plan to monitor pets in their homes to discover how their aging is influenced by genes, environments, diets and other factors such as exercise. While it is extremely difficult to monitor humans throughout their lives, it is relatively easy to start with puppies because their equivalent spans in dog years will be much shorter. The project is supported by a grant from the US National Institute on Aging.
Age is often ignored by organisations seeking to improve diversity and inclusion. Most believe the issue involves only race, gender and ethnicity, claims a report on the role of HR in nurturing the ageing working population. But what differentiates a great corporate culture from a poor one is the concept of universal equality among its workers. Senior employees usually face the most recruitment bias. It is imperative that organisations look beyond "the number that is age" – and consider the experience older people can bring. Wisdom comes with time. In an increasingly competitive and fast moving market, ignoring their potential can be fatal to a business.
Black British musicians may get better with age but the cult of "the next big thing often deflects attention from them just as they reach full maturity, writes Kevin Le Gendre in the Guardian. Yet there are triumphs. He provides profiles showing that many in the 50-plus age bracket "experience struggle, sacrifice and achievement in equal measure".
Image shows jazz saxophonist Jean Toussaint (61)
Properly taught lip reading can help people with hearing loss and those with normal hearing use both listening and looking skills to bolster their ability to communicate, a new study suggests. US researchers have come up with novel ways to improve learning. Methods include using software to get feedback on "near misses" - when what people mistakenly think was said is close to the actual words spoken. The approach concentrates on the relationship between seeing and hearing in communication. Increased sophistication of hearing aids and cochlear implants have made some experts too quick to under estimate the benefits of looking at people while talking. Though hearing aids can improve speech in noisy suroundings by 2 or 3 decibels, some studies show that visual speech combined with hearing speech is functionally equivalent to 12 or more decibels of noise reduction.
Five "predatory" firms have been hit with fines totalling £405,000 for continuing to pester old and vulnerable people with marketing calls despite their having opted out. The Information Commissioner's Office ruled they had miss-sold insurance for appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and televisions. The people bombarded had signed up with the Telephone Preference Service, a register designed to protect consumers from such unwanted calls. The ICO said one elderly person's savings were reduced from £8000 to £500 in just over one month.
Could the curse of arthritic knees be lifted? Scientists in the US are reported to have come up with a way of using electricity to stimulate new growth of cartilage, the tissue that acts as a cushion to stop bones rubbing together and causing pain. In successful experiments with rabbits, small mesh implants, about a half millimetre thick, generated tiny electric currents under the pressure of joint movement. The resulting electrical field prompted cells to colonise the implant and grow into new cartilage. It is hoped the technique may also herald relief from misery and avoidance of joint replacements for older humans.
More than one in five UK employers (22%) now expect to focus their "upskilling" efforts on over 50s, according to a report. The 50-64 age group comprises over 10m workers – a huge potential resource of experience available to fill the country's talent gap. Most 50+ employees have no plans to slow down their careers but are much less likely to receive any coaching. Why? Employers fear broaching the suggestion could alienate older workers and incite discrimination.
Frequent exercise isn't just important as a way of keeping aging bodies healthy. It can also keep the brain sharp, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Georgia tracked the physical activity of 51 older adults. They assessed the group's fitness with a walking test. Participants were asked to walk as quickly as they could to cover the maximum distance in six minutes. They also performed tests to measure cognitive functioning and underwent MRIs to assess brain function.
"When I am an old woman", so goes Jenny Joseph's poem, "I shall wear purple/With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me". Why shouldn't becoming bolder with advancing age be reflected in what wear? That's the question addressed in the Guardian newspaper. Ammar Kalia interviews four people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who "refuse to blend into the background".
People aged 65 or older made up more than one in five (20.8%) of the EU's population last year – an increase of three percentage points over the previous ten years, according to Eurostat. Consistently low birth rates and higher life expectancy are "transforming the shape of the EU's age pyramid", it says. Italy has the highest share of over 65s (23.5%) followed by Finland (22.7%) Greece (22.5%) and Portugal (22.4%). Luxembourg (14.6%) and Ireland (14.8%) have the lowest.
The Government must improve access to and quality of the advice people get on pensions to cut the risk they won't have enough income when they retire and ensure they make sound decisions on what to do with their accumulated pension pots. That is the call from the Social Market Foundation – a cross party think tank - which warns that while auto-enrolment has increased the number of people with private pensions, many are still far from achieving their hoped for standard of later life living. It estimates the current average pension pot under provision is about 58% - or £240,000.
There's a glaring disparity in the advertising realm that's often overlooked: Adults 50+ represent over 46% of the U.S. population and over 50% of consumer spending, yet they are largely invisible in TV advertising. Based on an AI audit of approximately 20,000 ads, only one in 10 people represented in TV ads are 50+. Two leaders at A+E Networks are bent on changing that: Marcela Tabares, Senior Vice President Strategic and Cultural Insights, Ad Sales Research, and Tara Lantieri, Senior Director, Primary Research, Ad Sales Strategic Insights.
Research by A&E captures insights to support more age-appropriate advertising, examining how older people feel they are portrayed and how they would like to be seen.
A proposal to link free prescriptions to the retirement age is raising concerns among Tory MPs. Raising the threshold from 60 to 66 - which would save the Treasury upwards of £250m a year - is part of a consultation from the Department of Health and Social Care. But the idea has prompted anxiety at the impact on voters already suffering from sharp increases in the cost of living. It would see some 2m people paying £9.35 per item for medicines prescribed by their GP, unless they qualified for exemption on grounds other than age.
Companies and other organisations should conduct audits to pin down age related problems among employees, a new report urges. Once they have a clear picture they can consider which interventions may be "most relevant and effective". But any initiatives taken must be communicated carefully as "a win-win" opportunities" – to avoid sparking resentment among those currently privileged on account of their age, who may otherwise feel threatened and react in a hostile manner.
Between 20 and 40 minutes moderate to vigorous exercise a day cuts the risk of heart problems for people in their 70s, according to a study. Researchers tracked 2754 Italians aged 65 or over, during a period of approximately 20 years. They found the incidence of coronary heart diseases, heart failure, stroke and overall mortality were all reduced. Benefits were most marked among those aged 70, however - suggesting it helps to be active in "early later life". They were only moderate among those aged 75 and no sign of corelation was observed at 80 or 85.
Those of the silver generation often joke that the reason they can't summon up facts quickly is that the mental reference library is fuller than that of the young. But a new study suggests it's not quite that simple. A crucial reason our memory falters, which has received relatively little empirical attention, is that older adults become less efficient at ignoring stored information irrelevant to that which they are trying to target. For example, the name or fact you are trying to recall could prompt "task-unrelated thoughts".
Use of artificial intelligence to monitor and improve health risks exacerbating ageism, according to a fascinating new policy brief from the World Health Organisation. It says encoding of stereotypes, prejudice or discrimination could undermine the quality of health care for older people. There is a risk that even of adequate data on older people are available it may not be sufficiently separated and broken down – partly because of a failure to recognise they differ significantly. This is because later life is stereotypically seen as "a homogenous life-stage". And without a narrowing of the "digital divide" (lower participation of older people in the digital economy) "Older people may not be fully represented in the data sets used to train and validate AI algorithms, thereby rendering the technologies less specific for individual characteristics and needs".
A senior executive at a FTSE250 company has successfully sued for age discrimination after claiming his younger boss sacked him and called him an "old fossil" who didn't know how to manage millennials. Glenn Cowie was 58 when told he would lose his £300,000 a year role. This followed a company had recommendation that new recruits should be no older than 45. The Employment Tribunal Judge who ruled on the case said the fact that this limit was so far below retirement age was “potentially suggestive of a mindset where assumptions were made about people and their abilities because of their age”.
Unemployed men over 50 are significantly less likely to have found a job after at least one year then any other group, a new analysis suggest. Rest Less – an online advocate for older people – took an in depth look at ONS (Office for National Statistics) data and found that in the three months to November that amounted to 99,000, representing a jump of 69% from the same period in 2019, before the pandemic took off.
(Image by Flazingo Photos via Wikimedia Creative Commons)
Film makers are beginning to address the habitual casting of old male actors and much younger female leads, the range of movies on show at the recent Sundance festival suggested. Examples were 62 years old Emma Thompson playing opposite Daryl McCormack, 29, in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, and Cha Cha Real Smooth, which centred on the relationship between a college leaver and a 30-something divorcee.
(Accompanying still from Good Luck to You, Leo Grande courtesy Sundance Film Festival)
People who suffer two or more chronic health problems in their mid-50s more than doubles the risk of dementia, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers collected data from more than 10,000 Britons with pre-defined conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer and depression. They found that dementia risk increased when these problems appeared at a younger age.
A parliamentary committee in Ireland has recommended the country's state pension age should remain at 66 in the face of a porpopal to up it by three months each year from 2028. It concluded many people past that milestone could not reasonable be expected to continue working "due to the physical and mental stress their jobs have caused".
The rise in the UK state pension age – from 65 to 66 – has resulted in 55,000 more 65 year olds in paid work, according to new research. But the effects have proved uneven, with 9% more women staying in work after 65 compared with 7% more men. And in the most deprived fifth of areas, women's employment jumped by 13% against 10% among men while in those of greatest prosperity the respective figures were only 4% and 5%. The research follows publication of Government figures suggesting the number of people aged 50 – 64 who are both out of work anf not seeking it has risen by over 200,000 compared with the total this time last year.
Actor Geena Davis said a male star didn't approve of her casting as his romantic interest because she was too old – even though she was 20 years younger than him. Davis, 66, who won an Oscar for Thelma and Louise in 1992, was speaking on the Allison Interviews podcast. She didn't name the actor but said ageism was "so prevalent" in the movie business. (image by itupictures via Wikimedia Creative Commons)
Take any card – it will show a key fact about the state of aging in the UK. The Centre for Ageing Better has produced more than 80 of them – they can be downloaded from its website - hoping they will be used in workshops at companies looking to develop new way to treat older employees, for example, or by local authorities wanting to view priorities "through an ageing lens".
Over-50s are more than twice as likely to be out of work for two years or more if they lose their jobs, Overt rejection for age reasons is against the law. But when faced with a mountain of applications age can jump out at hiring managers, resulting in bias – whether conscious or subconscious.
A huge number of older people appears not to have returned to work since the early, most stringent COVID restrictions were relaxed. Over 500,00 over-50s are now either out of work, not seeking jobs or unavailable for employment compared with the number before the pandemic. So said Darren Morgan, head of economic statistics at ONS in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme (18 January at 0719). This was despite the fact that the total number of people on payrolls was "now well above pre-pandemic levels".
A major insurance company is has banned the words “energetic” and “enthusiastic” from its job adverts for fear they deter over-50s from applying, according to a report in the Times. Phoenix Group says the adjectives are "younger age stereotypical. The company is also taking a fresh look at where to advertise to ensure they are seen by older, potential applicants.
Though exercise becomes increasingly important to people as they age, gyms can make them feel as though they have gatecrashed a young people's party. One survey found that almost one third of over-55s were deterred from exercising because they lacked confidence in their abilities – and weren't well represented at fitness centres.
Age is not just the poor relation in diversity politics – it is still perfectly acceptable in a polite society to be rampantly ageist, writes Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times. "Our blindness to ageism is particularly puzzling as it is a prejudice not against people who are different from us (other races, genders etc) but against our future selves."
Lighting so dim you can't read the menu without turning on your smart phone torch, uncomfortable chairs, loud music that makes conversation a challenge – there's nothing worse than a restaurant that makes you feel like an old git, complains restaurant critic Jay Rayner.
The Government must tackle a looming shortfall in Britain's workforce by supporting "longer and more productive working lives". That is the call from the International Longevity Centre UK in a new report. It says the shortfall could reach 2.6 million workers by 2030, the equivalent of nearly half the number of people working in the NHS.
Consuming more than a half tablespoon of olive oil a day could help you live longer, according to new research. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says it cuts he risk of death from heart attacks and cancer plus neurogenerative and respiratory diseases. The study also found that replacing around 10 grams a day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fat with the equivalaent amount of olive oil could have similar effects.
The first "age-positive" image library has been launched, in a bid to depict older people in ways that don't stereotype them. Free to use, it already contains over 400 images, such as the one we've used here. The library is the brainchild of the Centre for Ageing Better - a charitable foundation funded by the National Lottery Community Fund - whose mission is to help everyone to enjoy later life.
The pandemic has fuelled a huge jump in the number of silver streamers, according to internet service provider TalkTalk. And as stay at home restrictions have forced them to become more comfortable with life online, the over-75s have upped their internet use more than any other age group, showing a rise of 72%. Meanwhile growth oppportunities for the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video look brightest among older viewers. For example, only half of those aged 55-64 online subscribe or are able to access the former.
Nearly half of Americans over-55s enjoy Christmas shopping less than they used to, according to a new survey. Despite the fact that many of them have more time to seek the perfect gift 48% said some of the shine had worn off. That compared with only 27% of millennials. The research was conducted by Trunk Club – now part of Nordstrom - through which men and women in the US can arrange style consultations and order clothing "Trunks", returning anything they don't like.
Over-55s are increasingly unlocking property wealth to top up pensions and provide their children and grandchildren with lump sums, says the Equity Release Council. Borrowing by using a lifetime mortgage - a type of equity release - rose steadily during the first half of 2021, with more than 35,000 borrowers releasing a total of £2.3bn from the value of their homes.
Average incomes enjoyed by people over 65 in the OECD countries have been growing faster than those of the overall population, according to the organisation's latest annual Pensions at a Glance survey. Though the following are purely national comparisons, Italians in that age group topped the table in 2020, receiving 100% of the overall average disposable income of their fellow citizens. UK citizens in the same age group got just over 80%. French over 65s were second in the table, receiving about 99%, while in the US and Germany it was approximately 94% and 84% respectively.
Channel 4's veteran news presenter Jon Snow is to front a new TV series called "How to Live to 100" - looking at communities known for extraordinary longevity. The 74 year old, who is to step down from his current role, will visit places in Japan, California and the Greek islands, staying, working and eating with residents, and exploring their diets and other reasons they live so long. (Image courtesy Chatham House via Wikimedia Commons)
Can age be treated like illness? Science entrepreneurs have raised around £75 millions to fund efforts to prove it's possible. The money is backing for New York longevity start up Cambrian Biopharma, whose 35 year old co-founder, stem cell biologist James Peyer, believes many age related health problems can be prevented - like polio and tuberculosis. His company website declares: "By building new medicines that targetthe mechanisms underlying disease, we can treat damage at the molecular level long before symptoms manifest"……
Asking a 60 year old when he was planning to retire amounts to age discrimination, an Employment Tribunal judge has ruled. The finding emerged from a case in which a civil servant, who had expressed concern about his health but had no intention of giving up work, sued the Ministry of Defence for unfair treatment.
Over-50s holiday specialist Saga is to give grandparents among its employees a week off to celebrate the birth of grandchildren. The move follows research showing a quarter of working grandparents found it "difficult" to balance the demands of their jobs with childcare……….