As society ages, we need to formulate intelligent solutions for the future.

Mendeley Brainstorm: Ageing Societies – Getting Wiser?

As society ages, we need to formulate intelligent solutions for the future.

The elderly is one of the fastest growing segments of the world’s population. For example, the number of people in Japan aged over 65 hit a record high in 2016. What changes will we see in technology and society as a result? How do we get wiser about getting older? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes February 8, 2017.

Another Year Older

The New Year brings us closer to an unprecedented milestone. The worldwide number of people aged 60 and over will soon exceed 1 billion; the ratio of working people to pensioners is also experiencing a dramatic shift.

Bonanza or Bankruptcy?

Companies like BMW are adjusting their working practices to accommodate this demographic change. BMW found that such changes help them retain valuable skillsets. On the other hand, countries like Japan are struggling to pay pensions and health care for all their retirees; in fiscal 2012, the cost to the Japanese taxpayer was ¥109 trillion.

Technology to the Rescue?

Will Artificial Intelligence and / or Robotics help? More and more labour is being performed by machines; will this help countries adapt to this change? Or are governments going to have to restrict benefits to the elderly? Will the elderly have to work for longer? What would wise policy in response to this change look like? What are your thoughts on what actually will happen? Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

THE GUARDIAN, (2016). Are you worried about our ageing population? Share your thoughts. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/15/are-you-worried-about-our-ageing-population-share-your-thoughts [Accessed 15 Nov. 2016].

HALL, A. (2011). Built by Mature Workers: BMW opens car plant where all employees are aged over 50. Daily Mail. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1357958/BMW-opens-car-plant-employees-aged-50.html [Accessed 15 Nov. 2016].
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JAPAN TIMES, (2015). Public pensions, health care stretched as Japan’s population ages. [online] Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/25/national/social-issues/public-pensions-health-care-stretch-japans-population-ages/#.WCr3pdxgst8 [Accessed 15 Nov. 2016].

23 thoughts on “Mendeley Brainstorm: Ageing Societies – Getting Wiser?

  1. Smart wearable technologies are being tweaked to serve the needs of the elderly, providing them with reminders of when and what to eat—including of course medication. There are ‘quality of life’, mobility, assistance and convenience factors that inspire many of these products. Even individuals with early onset dementia can look optimistically toward innovations such as neurofeedback interfaces and first-person perspective virtual reality games. What is glaringly missing, however, is a design that makes room for and integrates all of these devices in a way that does not continue the segregation of the elderly. Rather than focus on improving independence (so that those over 65 are “out of sight and out of mind”), can technology eradicate ageism, which is really the underlying social problem?

  2. Ageing is an inevitable phenomenon that hits every living being and not only human beings. The advent of new technologies that help elderly people have already had a strong impact on the lives of many. However, the social part of ageing is crucial for the future of our societies. We need to start thinking of novel ways to bridge the gap between old and young generations through improving interactions between these two groups. Inventing the most advanced human-like robots can not replace the need for a human being next to a sick elderly person. Automation is a good solution to maintain the services that we need to survive in our dramatically ageing societies. However, the expertise and knowledge of the elderly people in various domains are still needed and should be stored in some format so that it can be used by future generations, thus advancing the human knowledge.

  3. O trato dos envelhecidos reflecte as reais falhas de uma sociedade abundante. A ilusão de uma velhice feliz no passada acabou. Poucos chegavam a velho, e eram mantidos vivos se ainda se provassem úteis. Era infeliz porque eram poucos. Dependiam de outros para tudo. Esse tempo já acabou. A modernidade trouxe uma vida mais longa, mais saudável, e com mais apoio, para todos. Qualquer liberalismo social e económico é posto em cheque. Existe vida após o trabalho. Com todas as possibilidades médicas e tecnológicas, essa vida cada vez é mais activa e possível. A velhice pode deixar de significar a dependência total dos outros, uma prisão no próprio corpo. Mais do que mostrar as possibilidades que um qualquer humano, em qualquer idade, pode ter, as tecnologias podem levar ao abandono da perspectiva aterrorizante que a velhice pode ter em qualquer jovem ou adulto. E, talvez assim, possa ser possível maior empatia, maior conforto na presença de um envelhecido, sem lembrar ao próprio do seu futuro possivelmente miserável.

  4. Ageing has lot of disadvantages like changes skin, impairing vision, hearing and loss of control of bladder& bowel etc., keeping in good shape and size is the most important agenda. Exercise of body and mind is the ultimate solution. Elderly people living in segregated and isolated area or house is more harmful, as you are roaming around with same kind of human beings ; I prefer living with family would be ideal , you can see all age group of individuals with variegated energy , intellect and activity ; that will cheer up your enthusiasm of growing older and living longer and not only that you will get vibe from younger that make you more active.

  5. The economic burden of an ageing population may be reduced by utilizing the labor of retirees who are willing to continue working or even marginally inclined towards continuation in the workforce but cannot find a suitable job that will accommodate a more tranquil and sedentary lifestyle. The elderly in general, and particularly those who have enjoyed a sustained career, tend to be rather patient and steadfast despite a lack of youthful vigor. On this basis, I propose a system of company-based outsourcing where both private and public firms may delegate a ‘pool’ of necessary tasks able to be performed remotely (online) to a cohort of elderly employees who can work at their own pace, selecting the tasks they prefer, all from the comfort of their own homes. Working an average of 2hrs per day, 5 days per week, at $25 per hour, an elderly person will earn $13 000 per year.

  6. Ageing is got to do more with mind than with body. So ageing though a reality for all is not the same for all. In fact some live more better as they age and look forward to old age because of lesser responsibility, life learnings and a general reduction in day to day worries of what tomorrow will bring in life. Technology is further, a great enabler which facilitates the aged continue enjoying good quality of life – be it the ICT enabled services or automation or safety systems or connectivity etc. Three thronged approach to getting wiser about getting older include maintaining: good physical health, financial independence and company of spouse, life partner, companion and friends one relishes being with and having fun.

  7. With increasing Older Population all over the world, prevalence of geriatric problems is also on the rise. Problem of Ageing should be dealt at various levels. Recently China abolished its One Child policy to tackle increasing ageing population. Recent research trend has revealed promising evidence about etiological factors and patho-physiological changes leading to geriatric problems. As Old Population is increasing we are getting more dependent and debilitated people who are adding to economic and social burden of society. Wisdom of old population can be utilized only if we support them with interdisciplinary policy decisions, innovations and support.

  8. Ageing is not the problem in itself at all. It has been made a problem. What govt needs to promote and society need to do is promote the family bonding. If a family bonding is great then there will never be the problem. Older people are our asset. They have the experience which we do not yet possess. A strong family bonding means people when they turn over 65 / 70, they have their young children and relatives to take of the parents. And a joint family means that ageing people get to see their grand children play in their laps. Old people are more affected by loneliness than anything else. So loneliness should be at all part of ageing population. The solution is a joint happy family where young generation and old generation live together. So young generation can learn from elders experience and old generation have young people to take care of and most importantly moral support.

  9. “Active mind never gets older”. Healthy physical activities, proper work management, enthusiasm to learn new things at the young/mid age can help in maintaining the active mind even at old (physically) age. It is the individual and government responsibility to motivate in such direction at their young age. Active minds can make wonders at any physical age. Active mind with loads of experience can be very well used in research for making innovations or in technology development or in engineering. They can very well use the unskilled man power or artificial intelligence of robotic machinery to get the work done. In my view, experienced minds are not a burden but an excellent source if used properly.

  10. “Aging” is a woefully unspecific term that stands in for a host of biological, social, mental, and even spiritual changes that come with the inexorable advance of years. Untangling and then reintegrating these aspects of “aging” is a worthy goal for researchers, policy makers, and individuals. Two interrelated aspects that deserve special attention, and for which we now have many interventions, are progressive muscle loss (sarcopenia) and strength loss (dynapenia). These together represent a significant part of the functional deficits that come with aging. This is true in obvious ways such as difficulty performing activities of daily living, as well as in less obvious ways. For example, loss of the primary glucose sink in skeletal muscle leads to increasing problems with blood sugar regulation, and hence the many complications of hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes. Though heavily debated, this dysglycemia may also contribute to what some now call “type 3 diabetes,” Alzheimer’s disease. Interventions include the conventional, such as a focus on protein intake (especially leucine-rich sources) and resistance exercise, as well as newer innovations such as blood flow restriction training, which was developed in Japan to help people maintain or increase muscle mass when unable to lift heavy weights, or even unable to move at all. Additionally, prudent use of and research on anabolic agents in both males and females is, after many years of public and academic disdain, beginning to see a renaissance. A multifactorial approach that considers the needs of each individual and employs techniques and tools germane to the situation has the best chance of extending the “healthspan” of those who have collected a significant number of years. Aspects of this approach can be made available, often at very low cost, in community centers, places of employment, medical facilities, and the homes of individuals. If effective, techniques to significantly delay sarcopenia and dynapenia may gradually shift our view of what constitutes “elderly.” What does it mean for society if the typical 75-year-old in 20xx has the physical and mental agility of the typical 55-year-old in 2017?

    Further reading:

    Witard, O. C., McGlory, C., Hamilton, D. L., & Phillips, S. M. (2016). Growing older with health and vitality: a nexus of physical activity, exercise and nutrition. Biogerontology. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-016-9637-9

    Jørgensen, A. N., Aagaard, P., Nielsen, J. L., Frandsen, U., & Diederichsen, L. P. (2016). Effects of blood-flow-restricted resistance training on muscle function in a 74-year-old male with sporadic inclusion body myositis: a case report. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, 36(6), 504–509. http://doi.org/10.1111/cpf.12259

    Carson, J. A., & Manolagas, S. C. (2015). Effects of sex steroids on bones and muscles: Similarities, parallels, and putative interactions in health and disease. Bone, 80, 67–78. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2015.04.015

    Pan, M. M., & Kovac, J. R. (2016). Beyond testosterone cypionate: evidence behind the use of nandrolone in male health and wellness. Translational Andrology and Urology, 5(2), 213–9. http://doi.org/10.21037/tau.2016.03.03

      • Two modifiable and interrelated aspects of aging are muscle and strength loss (sarcopenia and dynapenia). These are deleterious in obvious ways such as difficulty performing activities of daily living, as well as in indirect ways, e.g. reduction of glucose disposal into muscle may contribute to hyperglycemia, diabetes, and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes called “type 3 diabetes.” Interventions are generally low-cost and include the conventional, such as protein (especially leucine) intake and resistance exercise, as well as innovations including blood flow restriction training, which was developed in Japan to help people maintain or increase muscle mass when unable to lift heavy weights or even move at all. Additionally, prudent use of and research on anabolic agents in both males and females is beginning to see a renaissance. What does it mean for society if the typical 75-year-old in 20xx has the physical agility of the typical 55-year-old in 2017?

        Further reading:

        Witard, O. C., McGlory, C., Hamilton, D. L., & Phillips, S. M. (2016). Growing older with health and vitality: a nexus of physical activity, exercise and nutrition. Biogerontology. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-016-9637-9

        Jørgensen, A. N., Aagaard, P., Nielsen, J. L., Frandsen, U., & Diederichsen, L. P. (2016). Effects of blood-flow-restricted resistance training on muscle function in a 74-year-old male with sporadic inclusion body myositis: a case report. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, 36(6), 504–509. http://doi.org/10.1111/cpf.12259

        Carson, J. A., & Manolagas, S. C. (2015). Effects of sex steroids on bones and muscles: Similarities, parallels, and putative interactions in health and disease. Bone, 80, 67–78. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2015.04.015

        Pan, M. M., & Kovac, J. R. (2016). Beyond testosterone cypionate: evidence behind the use of nandrolone in male health and wellness. Translational Andrology and Urology, 5(2), 213–9. http://doi.org/10.21037/tau.2016.03.03

  11. A recent visit to my ageing 90-year uncle had me pondering on the same subject. Lying on the bed, he was able to see, smell, hear, feel and speak – but couldn’t recognize who we were, dismissing it with a typical “I don’t know – I can’t place who” response. Till we reminded him of some event, at which instance, his eyes lit up and he grasped our hands. Now how do we give them a sense of worth and belonging? How do we tell them that they are indeed precious, even when their bladder-control is slipping and causing discomfort? Or is it just the angst of once-in-a-while visitors like us, while the “real” care-takers couldn’t care more? Or less?
    I know for sure, spirituality can help. Lots! As I saw it, there was a will to pray, know peace. Say a loud Amen, embrace. Life is abundantly accommodative – no grudges, no regrets. Know forgiveness for yourself and forgive others. Full Life. Satisfied.
    Maybe death does has its way of staring at us in the face, now, in this old age, more than any other time before-and how does one prepare for it?
    Should we have “professional” services for elderly care? Maybe not! The elderly become overly introvert, and their thinking (and their misgivings) most often do not go beyond the immediate family-members. Should the advances of science – aids for impairments in speech, hearing, sight, walking, etc., be used for their well-being? Maybe yes-if they would have it. Should there be a pension scheme to cater to their basic needs? Maybe yes-if the employers can have or afford such a policy. The only thing that is certain, in my mind, is to prepare them while they are young or in the middle-age, to live without (old-age) fear while they earn, and take time to simply sit, relax and rest while pursuing home-grown hobbies-whether it be gardening, music, teaching, or art, which they plan to take up after retirement-if need be.

  12. As the World population ages rapidly, technology and society need to adapt and address the 3 key issues plaguing the aged: Failing physical and mental health; Limited financial resources and Decreasing social interactions to ensure that we age wisely, comfortably and happily. Some of these can be:
    1)Failing physical and mental health- devices to remind daily tasks, talking fridges to do stock taking and replenish grocery based on usage trend (with automatic online ordering), health apps monitor health, suggest changes in medicine /dosage; establish direct physician consultation & alert health care providers in advance of anticipated emergency. Safety gadgets e.g.- motion sensor walking assistant preventing fall, robotic household assistant, remote monitoring of elderly through device by care giver etc. Population aging dramatically increases non-communicable diseases (NCDs). To age healthier- Technology and science advancements to monitor 4 key risk factors – tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, and harmful use of alcohol starting early on to decrease most common NCD’s of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. 2)Limited financial resources- Providing advance financial planning options with greater long term market predictability to maximize returns; Companies to offer flexible and less physically challenging jobs to senior citizens to offset skill shortage and advantage their experience; rewarding for volunteering tasks like care work, artistic work e.g.- young parents getting real-time practical parenting advice via Ganny App. These opportunities not only improve financial health but also foster self-esteem – preventing depression. 3) Decreasing social interactions-Creation of online and real world social forums for elderly specifically as well as with the youth community based on interest.

  13. The problems faced by the elderly people are mainly, health problems and financial problems. W.r.t the health problems, the govt. should provide special facilities to the elderly such as easy and more flexible payment methods, pickup service for those who can’t travel for longer distances, timely personalized notifications on mobile phones about their upcoming check-ups etc. Also they can use the technology sector to develop some apps which will help them to know if they are facing any disease or health problem via the symptoms, apps by specific hospitals to track the progression of the treatment, provide a soft copy of the reports. For the the technically challenged old people the govt. can conduct free regular workshops on how to use mobile phones, access apps and awareness about the health apps. W.r.t the financial problems, the govt. can provide simple, work-from-home jobs for the retired elderly people.

  14. French humanist Henri Estienne once said «Sijeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait!» Really, if youth only knew, if age only could. I think this words most accurately represents the problem of younger and older generations. Information is most important resource in the world nowadays and the elderly is its owners completely, so they have to be demand. Automation and artificial intelligence don`t substitute for experience and a lot of nuances which just a real person can pass over. Older people have breadth of knowledge and experience in their profession and there is a need to share all of this. They can continue to work as consultants in their company being a mentor of young people who came to the profession recently. So, it will be the continuity of generations. Old does not mean outdated.

  15. To get right answer, we need to clarify the question: what kind of society do we mean?
    In societies where elderly are in competition with young for food and clean water, the discussion about using robots seems a mockery.
    In societies with weak economy and low income retirement drastically affects the quality of life. Ageism in the labor market and meager pension deprive elderly people of the rights to a decent life.
    However, the ageing of rich societies creates new markets and new professions, stimulates progress in medicine and technologies, and helps to understand the value of all ages for social development.
    There is no strong relationship between ageing and wisdom.
    Ageing societies can become more violent if they are poor or in crisis.
    I think the wisdom is to find a well-tailored solution for each society. It will help to solve the main problems of ageing humankind in whole.

  16. Technology has many solutions for problems of aging, but accessibility is a huge issue. Technology intimidates many older people because of its extreme novelty, its complexity, and most of all, because it’s always changing. Technological solutions need to be constructed with responsive scaffolding that takes into account working memory limits, but as well, users need to believe that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Learning and flexibility are the cognitive skills demanded and given pre-eminence today. We need to push the message that these skills don’t die as you get older, but that they do rust if unused, and the brain changes throughout life, requiring you to change your strategies too. But we shouldn’t discard the benefits of age, which are experience and expertise. We need cognitive tools and techniques that find the right balance between experience and learning, expertise and flexibility. We need mindsets that value both.

  17. Society needs to view ageing through a different lens than that of the traditional view of elders retiring at sixty plus, becoming frail and dying shortly thereafter. We can learn much from research into communities which have unusually high levels of centenarians and unusually low levels of diseases associated with ageing. One study in particular, into the “Blue Zones”, suggests commonalities of practices between the populations of Okinawa, Barbagia, Loma Linda, the Nicoya Peninsula and Ikaria which promote longevity, health and wellbeing in older people. Applications for mobile devices could educate billions of people in their later years regarding the development of practices which would keep them healthier, happier and more productive for longer periods of time. As well as supporting natural movement and a healthy diet, the applications would promote the maintenance of healthy and supportive relationships, engagement in meaningful activities and the capacity to identify a life purpose.

  18. 68 last November, write to keep my brain active and working on getting back to running every day to keep fit. Also walk a lot and enjoy the fresh air, but the cold wind this now slows you up. Run at least twice a week with the Hash House Harriers with 10KM taking about an hour depending on the location.

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