Most of us know the “stay woke” expression which refers to awareness of social or racial justice. People worldwide are living longer. Today, for the first time in history, most people can expect to live into their sixties and beyond. Read on to understand why it’s time to go beyond social and racial issues and shake-up our thinking about ageing!
A few fascinating facts:
- Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double.
- Today, the number of people over 60 outnumber children under 5
- The pace of shift in population distribution toward older age – known as population ageing — is increasing dramatically worldwide
- The covid19 pandemic has raised awareness about the fundamental role of maintaining optimal physical and mental health throughout life, adding to the prevailing concept of quality ageing.
In conjunction with their increased capabilities, today’s older generations express a greater willingness to remain active and productive. They crave more flexible working conditions, entrepreneurship and purpose. We, as a society, need to meaningfully support people’s changing life spans.
Yet, our current society targets the ageing population haphazardly through initiatives like early-bird specials, limited financial literacy education and if we’re lucky some training to demystify digital. Age bias and ageism are expressed, to others and to ourselves, due to an unconscious internalization of society’s negative attitudes and stereotypes towards older people. Ageism has been shown to have a significant impact on mental and physical health, contribution to society and longevity.
To foster healthy ageing and improve lives, we need to make fundamental shifts in our actions and in how we think about age and ageing. We need to go far beyond simple early-bird specials and financial planning to turn disruptive demographics into opportunities for all. This means integrating multiple dimensions of well-being. Here we explore these dimensions to understand how and why we need to stay shook!
Additional years provide opportunities for older people and societies as a whole. However, the extent of these opportunities depends heavily on one factor: health. Multiple studies, research and experience confirm that today’s top ageing fears are:
- Loss of independence
- Declining health
- Running out of money
- Inability to live at home
- Death of loved ones and loneliness.
Each of these worries is, in one way or another, linked to physical health. Understanding the importance and relevance of new health behaviors with age and how to create them is critical to ageing well.
According to the World Health Organization, biological ageing is only loosely related to our age in years. In fact, 70% of the characteristics associated with ageing are caused by lifestyle, not the natural process of maturity.
The way one faces ageing depends greatly on how age is perceived. Beyond age 50, our bodies, careers and environments change remarkably triggering a cascade of emotions. Research shows that more than 90% of our decisions are emotions-based, so, understanding and improving emotional well-being is critical to healthy ageing.
Mindset and attitude can actually change the way we age, including:
- Age bias
- Aligning with passions
- Managing Emotions.
Age is often associated with a decline in brain function. However, research shows that most forms of learning and retention are well preserved with age and though all brain cells change, mental decline is not inevitable. Mental deterioration, such as Alzheimer’s, one of the most feared consequences of ageing, can be largely prevented through an intellectually stimulating life.
Additional years provide the chance to pursue new activities such as education, a new career or a long-neglected passion. Mental well-being can be further enhanced by:
- Connecting with others
- Embracing diversity
- Accepting different viewpoints
- New learning
- Nurturing curiosity.
Summaries by the Mayo Clinic of over 1000 studies showed improved outcomes in physical and mental health for the aged that value spirituality.
Spirituality is the anchor of our lives; the bond between who we are, what we’re made of and who we will become. Our legacy. This bond is the foundation to aligning with our very existence. It helps us stay grounded as we move forward with serenity, balance and purpose.
Existence takes on new meaning in the last third of our lives. After years of ups and downs is the ideal opportunity to observe through experienced eyes and connect with our true – maybe new – purpose.
Specifically, spirituality can be realigned through:
- Reassessing values and beliefs
- Discovering mindfulness
- Thinking about our legacy
- Questioning that “something” beyond ourselves.
Running out of money in later years is the #1 fear for many. This means that feeling financially confident about managing commitments, protecting ourselves and loved ones against risks, and preparing for future needs.
Financial wellness is not about how much money we have, but about how we choose to manage it. Money management affects every aspect of life including emotional and physical wellness
However, that’s not enough. Our relationship and beliefs around money and how we choose to spend it change throughout life and a shake-up is crucial. We need to assess what kind of spenders we are and, most importantly, decide what type of spenders we wish to be.
Shaking mindsets and thinking at every level
On a personal level, most of us consider the possibility of living longer, more active, healthy lives as a fantastic opportunity. Shaking-up and translating this enthusiasm to the societal level fosters openings for innovative thinking on how we can prepare and plan for the future.
Reflecting and aligning all dimensions of well-being is the best way to build a society unprecedentedly rich in wisdom with enhanced intergenerational collaboration and a meaningful future. The pandemic has given us all a sense of urgency – let’s take advantage of it to “get and stay shook” to today’s ageing population and turn disruptive demographics into opportunities for all generations.
Ellen, along with her business partner Dominique Ben Dhaou, are experts in coaching the 50+ population and will be publishing « Wake-Up, Shake-Up, Thrive! Elevating your 50+ Ageing with a Cool Swiss Touch” on this subject in 2021.