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A more inclusive society for those with disabilities

Srin Madipalli at an AbleThrive talk.

With a lot of recent talks about disabilities including the one held by AbleThrive (a platform for those with disabilities), Ageless Voice reached out to a former London lawyer Srin Madipalli, who launched an accessible travel website called Accomable, to find out about having a more inclusive society. Srin, 29, has spinal muscular atrophy which is a genetic disorder that affects the control of muscle movement and has confined him in a wheelchair for his whole life.

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A flexible retirement

The concept of retirement is changing rapidly. “As people live longer and in good health, retirement is becoming a more active life stage, with more people looking for the opportunity to combine work and leisure. Many workers have retired the notion of fully retiring at age 60 or 65,” said Catherine Collinson, executive director of the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement (ACLR) and president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS).

ACLR in collaboration with TCRS recently released a new report titled “The New Flexible Retirement” (left), which illustrates that today’s workers are expecting to transition into retirement, however, they face a significant obstacle – few employers have employment practices to support them. The report is based on research from the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2015, which comprises 16,000 workers and retirees and presents global trends and profiles of 15 countries including Asia.

Globally, the survey found that 51 percent of all workers now expect to retire at age 65 or later, or not at all. The mindset of working beyond traditional retirement age varies around the world; in Japan, 43 percent of survey respondents aspire to continue working past retirement compared to only 15 percent in France.

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A “challenging ageing” – one of this year’s top consumer trends

Euromonitor International has released a white paper (left) that examines this year’s top consumer trends. Besides greener food, over-connected consumers and spending singles, the paper highlighted another trend being the “challenging ageing”. Its author Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, shared that “mature consumers are a huge market”, with the global population aged 65+ forecasted to grow to 626 million in 2016 out of a total global population of 7.3 billion. She added that though the spending power may vary in this demographic, these consumers “remain a key and growing consumer segment”.

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Growing older without feeling old

 

Dr Rudi GJ Westendorp, Professor of Medicine at Old Age, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, leaves nothing out in his book, “Growing Older Without Feeling Old: On Vitality and Ageing”(left). He debunks many fad diets and “solutions” to ageing, and examines the attitudes of old people themselves.

Ageless Voice chats with the expert on ageing and the well-being of older people about his book and his perspectives on ageing:

With more people growing old and more are growing older, what does this mean to society and individuals?

Within a period of a hundred years, average life expectancy has doubled from 40 to 80 years. And it keeps going up. There has never been a time that one could foresee such a long and healthy life. The concentration of deaths moved from the youngest to the oldest ages and is accompanied by an unprecedented decrease in fertility rates. It has changed the demographic pyramid of our population drastically. With large increases in survival rates in the last half-century, current cohorts will move up through the population distribution. In 2050, the original pyramid will reach an almost rectangular shape and a skyscraper has erected.

These ‘demographic’ changes are at the heart of political, economic and public debate as the relative number of older adults increases. Governments have responded with measures in family planning, labour, social support and healthcare. I argue that the principle vision behind many of these measures is misguided, and ineffective as a result, as it is based on an (implicit) idealisation of the population pyramid with plenty youngsters to take care of the older population. Instead I suggest an age-independent approach that does not take chronological age – as a criterion for social contribution and (healthcare) consumption – as its basis.

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Beating the “memory thief”

I read an interesting article in the recent issue of “Fortune” magazine, Issue 5.1.15 on the race to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. They shared about an experimental drug by Biogen called aducanumab, which is still being clinically-trialled, and has created much positive buzz. With the numbers of people likely to get Alzheimer’s increasing in many countries and with no cure, and the high cost of caring for these patients, this news is promising. The article mentioned that the trial of the drug showed that amyloid plaques (associated with Alzheimer’s) were “greatly reduced”.

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