While London will soon be celebrating those sprightly young things called athletes at the height of their physical prowess, there’s a movement bubbling which lauds the powers of the slightly less nimble amongst us: the elderly. In a country where we’re only getting older and diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s are becoming more widely discussed there’s actually a lot of great stuff going on for the old. All of which recognizes how, despite the edicts of Hollywood, being old isn’t so bad. In fact, there’s a lot to be said for giving back to those whose beacons we are now carrying on.
One of our favourites is The Amazings, a scheme which connects London’s retirees with skill-seeking youth. Just as the name suggests it proudly shouts loud and clear how the Freedom Pass carrying generation are actually guardians of some nifty old skills – skills which can bring a new perspective to how the rest of us naïve springlings view and interact with the world.
It’s one of the first things we’ve seen which makes spending time with the elderly look just as cool as hanging out at the latest East London pop-up foraged food spot. It also reminds us of the upcoming Intelligence Squared event “The Elders”, which similarly hails the eminent elders of our culture for their wisdom. The event has sold out, a fact which disappointed us (we wanted tickets) and heartened us in equal measure.
This commendable movement, and the need for more of such events and initiatives, is nicely summed up at the Coming of Age exhibit just opened at GV Art. In collaboration with the University of Nottingham’s Institute for Ageing and Health, the show commissioned 10 artists to explore the beauty, frailty, and strength that comes with age. If forms part of the academic institute’s campaign Changing Age which is aimed specifically at challenging negative perceptions around those who are old.
Spots of Time is another nascent social enterprise that bridges the gulf between old and young. Its vision is an active effort to move forward the themes currently explored at GV Art. By connecting the fresh blood of London to people living with dementia in local care homes it makes it not only easy but actually fun to spend time with old people. Like the Amazings it’s a zingy new façade for an activity that has long been seen as a burden rather than anything else.
As our country gets older, we think we’ll see a lot more positive discourse and interesting design for the elderly. Dedicated innovations for geriatrics will boom, cultural institutes will turn not only to the young for their education and outreach programmes, the work force will shift to be totally age blind. Most of all, brands will talk not just to the trendsters to kick-start conversations and sales, but increasingly to the Baby Boomer retirees who have just as much influence as cash. Welcome to the fresh new face of the old.