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US: Helping seniors prepare for emergencies 

Lawrence Ganong, a researcher at the University of Missouri, has found a way to help older adults who live independently to better prepare for health emergencies, according to the university.

Professor Ganong, who is co-chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, said older adults living alone had increased risk of injury during emergencies. Adults living in rural communities were especially at risk because there were fewer healthcare professionals in these areas and slower ambulance response times.

Professor Ganong designed stories that demonstrated fictitious older adults in emergency situations and had members of the older adults’ support network, whether family members, neighbours or close friends, discuss the scenarios with the older adults. He found that older adults who had discussed the stories with their support members created better emergency plans than those who only received emergency planning information from members of their support networks.

“Older adults don’t like to be told what to do or how to do something,” he said. “When family members or close friends try to tell older adults what to do when it comes to emergency planning, they tend not to listen. However, we found that when family members presented these hypothetical stories to older adults, the older adults began to think of themselves in the emergency situations and began to talk about what they would do.”

Professor Ganong has created a guide for caregivers that contains the stories and offers guidance on how to create personalized stories. He is currently working on a way to make the guide available to caregivers and older adults online.

UK: Architects imagine cities shaped by seniors 

The Building Futures report.

The Building Futures report.

Building Futures, the think tank of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), has published a new report, Silver Linings: The Active Third Age and the City, which looks at some of the economic and social changes presented by the ageing population in the next 30 years.

The report describes a future where people may choose luxurious, international retirement lifestyles or live with generations of their families in one grand design. The UK’s beleaguered high streets could take on a new lease of life, with health hubs, child care facilities and universities, while coastal towns, traditionally favoured by older generations but currently facing big social and economic challenges, could all be transformed by a more active retired population.

Over the next 20 years the number of people aged over 60 in the UK is expected to increase by 40 per cent and post-retirement years will be longer and healthier. By 2040, and no longer a minority group, the over 60 “active third ager” will have substantially greater economic, social and political power.

The report illustrates six future scenarios in which “active third agers” have made a huge impact on towns and cities. The institute says that each possibility has been explored to inspire ideas and provoke debate. Read the full report.

India: International commission on ageing

Countries including India are working towards the setting up of a global commission on ageing in developing countries, reports The Times of India. Discussions for such a commission were held at a recent conference in China attended by India’s family welfare minister GhulamNabi Azad.

The goal of the commission is to enable gender, equity and rights-based policies that will improve the quality of life of the ageing population in developing countries, according to the article.

Azad pointed out that the increasing ageing populations posed challenges for existing health systems, social security and, in some cases, employment, particularly in developing countries which weren’t fully equipped with policies and programs to deal with the age group.

Singapore: Seniors celebrate wellbeing 

Some 2,500 residents from different walks of life on Sunday took part in the first large-scale active ageing carnival in Nee Soon, Channel NewsAsia reports.

Through a series of activities and exhibits, the event aimed to encourage physical, mental and social wellbeing among senior citizens.

Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam, who was at the carnival, said active ageing was not just an individual responsibility, but an issue where both the young and old had an important role to play.

“We’re going to have one million people becoming retired over the next 15 to 17 years, 40 per cent of our population will be senior citizens,” he said. “The impact on the economy is quite substantial, and also I don’t think we’ve begun to grapple with the kind of support services and consequences. So really, Chong Pang is a microcosm because one quarter of the population here are senior citizens.”

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