Free your mind - read your Birthday cards
"You're not old, you're vintage!" - so read the card from my youngest daughter when I reached a particular milestone last month.
"Fifty is when you're old enough to know better, but still young enough to keep on doing it" said another (which rather gives the game away. Yes, I have reached the next half century, and deemed it good!)
Sentiments like those make my world go round. In fact, if fortunate enough to still be upright in 10, 20, or 30 years time, I could probably dust down those same cards and feel the same glow of approval.
At least, that would be so were I to believe (and I do!) the prevalent view of everyone of my vintage and older who I have had the privilege of meeting in recent decades - and that constitutes a lot of wisdom. This makes much "ageing society" commentary so surprising, with its "ag-ED" tones and its tales of entrapment in an unhealthy place, laced with sensors and sympathy.
If however we rely on more trust-worthy sources (for example birthday cards) we welcome the full joy that is our age-ING society. You don't believe Hallmark? Then try the Office of National Statistics. These stats don't lie: overall we are healthier and more able for much longer than ever before.
When we view this full picture rather than just a slice, more relevant and desirable invention flows. For example, how can we and those around us continue to live life how, where and when we wish? (Yes: this is about us, not "those unfortunate others"). Or, how can we use the wealth of new communication possibilities to offset constraints, such as our location, our mobility or simply life's complexity?
New times demand new thought, with many inspirational examples of this eg:
- The County Borough of Torfaen in Wales - a community striving to grow economically and make lives better, including by taking advantage of new communication technology options. Their Wisdom, Wealth and Wellbeing programme has produced striking findings, particularly on the huge and growing significance of 45-65 year-olds in an ageing society ("The pivot generation").
- Almere in the Netherlands - this fast-growing city recognised the growing, strategic significance of its more-seasoned residents. The wonderfully-named Verzilvering programme is now using video links over high speed broadband to extend citizens' participation in desirable, beneficial ways
Many illustrations of related issues, such as:
According to Steven Johnson, "Chance favours the connected mind". How right he is! Likewise, innovation favours the free mind - one free of narrow, "ag-ED" thoughts, for example. Read those birthday cards, well! Stimulate ideas; overcome constraints; focus on enabling full and vibrant lives!
Kevin Johnson leads Cisco's Ageing Well programme in Europe.