11 May 2006

When the new old are eternal youths

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Active and ageing
Julia Huber, co-author of Demos‘ ‘The New Old‘ and ‘Eternal Youths‘ reports, recently shared her work and ideas on ageing at the UK Design Council.

She discussed the implications of an ageing population of baby boomers and stressed the need for consideration of the social, cultural and polictical challenges (not just the economic dimensions) of catering for the needs of the ‘new old’, as well as increasing their potential contribution to society:

  • Quality of life for older people is no different to quality of life for younger people.
  • Age is not as important as life stage. People become old at different ages.
  • Elderly people are as diverse as any other group in society. There is no such thing as “the elderly”. Moreover old age comprises different life stages. In particular: 3rd Age and 4th Age.
  • Quality of life in old age combines how we approach life and how we approach death. Furthermore, hope is essential in both life and death.
  • Most spending on the elderly, funds services to tackle physical illness and financial need and neglect the social and emotional aspects of well being.
  • Most of the money is concentrated in institutions while services fail to mobilise the resources in families and communities.
  • “Care” is an emotional relationship not a transactional relationship. As a result the “care” industry succeeds in providing services to support physical and health needs but fails to meet emotional and social needs.

(from the Design Council’s RED website)

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