At last night’s event, research findings which show that even the ‘older old’ (those 75 years and older) can age successful were presented. But what was meant by successful aging? Those indivdiuals who were found to be aging successfully had high mental quality of life but low physical quality of life. That is, the ‘older old’ were able to have a positive outlook on life despite poor physical health. This was particularly true in individuals who had increased social interactions. Other research supports these findings. Older people who consider themselves to be aging successfully have a sense of ‘self-efficacy’ and feel they have control over their lives while they may be physically frail.
Last night’s launch of a new ILC-UK/CLG discussion paper saw a debate on how the built environment should be planned to better anticipate the demands of population ageing. The launch was very much intended to start a discussion; the issue is still surprisingly absent in many policy discussions, and the concept of ‘lifetime neighbourhoods’ itself is still emerging.
Many observers might ask, what is the relevance of human rights to an ageing population? The view that exclusion and poverty are inevitable facets of ageing may indeed obscure the obvious, that it is exactly as we become more frail and vulnerable that our human rights are most at risk. A series of different questions were tackled at the ILC-UK Global Conference ‘Human Rights in an Ageing World’. Presentations were made by a variety of different speakers, including Michael Wills MP, Dr Robert Butler – Chief Executive of the ILC-USA, Dr Alex Kalache – Director of the World Health Organisation’s Ageing and Lifecourse Programme and Trevor Phillips – Chair of the Commission on Equality and Human Rights. Topics included the human rights situation of older people around the world, practical perspectives on the use of human rights in tackling discrimination and poverty, and the risks and opportunties presented by ongoing developments in the field. In summary, older populations around the world face vastly different living circumstances. It is worth remembering that 80% of the world’s population do not have any social security. Human rights in this situation may be dominated less by concepts of dignity and inclusion but by the hard reality of day-to-day survival. Yet the problems that all older people experience in their daily lives are likely to share common themes: social exclusion, difficulty accessing services, discrimination in the public sphere and a perception that they are somehow second class citizens.
Today sees the publication of some new research from the ILC-UK called ‘Asset Accumulation across the Life Course’, made possible by the support of Prudential, and Partnership.
Retirees in the UK are fitter and healthier than ever before. However, loneliness, isolation, disengagement and depression continue to stalk the lives of many in retirement. How can we access and use the latent capacity that exists in the retired population to organise local community groups, activities and networks that could help to prevent these conditions and improve quality of life?
The ILC-UK organised an event today on the sensitive topic of so-called ‘under-occupancy’ by older people. This is a topic we’ve been interested in for a while – we felt that our work on housing and planning had lead us to a contradiction between everyday industry talk of the need to ‘free up’ the ‘under-occupied’ homes of older people and Government agenda of keeping people independent at home for as long as possible.
Online social networking is one of the most interesting and exciting Internet developments of recent years. Usage of sites such as Facebook and MySpace has exploded. At some point, it would be worth asking: what can online social networking can do for older people?
‘Auto-enrolment’ into so-called Personal Accounts is probably the most innovative and interesting element of the Government’s proposed pension reforms. But auto-enrolment potentially throws up as many challenges as it solves.
Today’s column by Philip Stephens in the Financial Times (Tomorrow belongs to someone else) pinpoints a fascinating scenario that is dawning on policymakers and researchers: that the children of baby-boomers cannot expect a relative level of financial security as high as their parents.