Ageing is not a misery, but full of meanings...


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Prof. Antti Karisto in Japanese-Finnish seminar 10.09.13

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Ageing is not a misery, but full of meanings...

  1. 1. AGEING AS A POSITIVE PHENOMENON – ENRICHING INTERACTION! Japanese–Finnish seminar, Lahti 10.9.2013 Antti Karisto (University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research) Ageing is not a misery, but full of meanings: a case of empowering gerontechnology
  2. 2. Contents of the presentation: Population ageing as a burden and alternative discourses Different indicators, different pictures Third age, active ageing How to enhance the quality of life of the elderly? Cases illuminating the importance of biographies
  3. 3. ”Ageing as decline, decline as ageing” This is ”the grand narrative” typical to modern societies, according to Jason Powell.
  4. 4. Population ageing as a burden Population ageing is considered to be a burden for the society, giving only cause to increasing care costs, decreasing productivity and reduced sustainability of the public economy.
  5. 5. Population ageing as a good enemy Population ageing has become “a good enemy”, which is so handy to blame when talking about the difficulties of public policy and national economy, or the future of societies. This discourse “blames the victim”: makes ageing people guilty of the fact that they are so numerous and all the harm this is supposed to bring with it. Public discourses are powerful, because also individual ageing experiences are culturally influenced or socially constructed.
  6. 6. The worry about population ageing, of course, is not ungrounded. Care costs are extremely age-dependent. Their increase and other outcomes of population ageing, however, are not deterministic.
  7. 7. 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400 2600 2800 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 AGE AGE Care and service costs according to age (€ per month) Pekka Parkkinen
  8. 8. It has been estimated that care costs will more than double in a few decades, if they are dependent only on changes in the age structure. However, if the productivity of work in caring occupations increases (by 0,5 % in a year), costs will be lower. And if service needs can be postponed in line with the increase of life expectancy, costs will be markedly lower.
  9. 9. Technological innovations are needed in order to improve productivity of services. Social innovations are needed in order to postpone the needs for services and to enhance the quality of life of the elderly.
  10. 10. Alternative viewpoints are needed: active ageing, third age
  11. 11. Different indicators give different picture on population ageing and its consequences.
  12. 12. From pyramids to coffins: the age structure of the Finnish population, 1950–2030 0-4 5-9 10-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74 75-79 80-84 85-89 90- Ikä 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 50 100 150 200 250 Miehet Naiset 1950 20502030 2009 Lähde: Tilastokeskus; väestötilastot ja väestöennuste 2009
  13. 13. We normally think only in terms of “years lived” (in terms of how old people are), not in terms of “years left” (life expectancies). John MacInnes & Jeroen Spijker: Years lived and years left: why the contemporary ageing debate is mistaken. The case of Scotland. The 11th European Conference of Sociology, Torino 29.8.2013.
  14. 14. The life expectancy increasing, and also “the healthy life expectancy” is increasing: most of the new retirement years people have obtained are relatively healthy years. It is well possible that the service needs will be postponed to higher age.
  15. 15. Population is ageing not only in Finland or in Japan, but everywhere, and therefore it does not necessarily affect so much on the relative competitiveness of national and regional economics. “We cannot do anything about geography” (J.K. Paasikivi, ex-president of Finland) “We cannot do anything about demography”. Yet, there are remarkable differences in the pace and timing of population ageing between countries.
  16. 16. The old age dependency ratio in Finland and other European countries, 2008–2050 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 2008 2014 2020 2026 2032 2038 2044 2050 Slovenia Italia Espanja Kreikka Saksa Puola Slovakia Bulgaria Tsekki Romania Portugali Latvia Liettua Unkari Malta Itävalta Viro Suomi Hollanti Ranska Belgia Ruotsi Tanska Irlanti Iso-Britannia Luxemburg Kypros
  17. 17. The weakening of the old age dependency ratio in Finland during the next decades is related to the post World War II Baby Boom, which was exceptionally strong in Finland.
  18. 18. 0,0 0,2 0,4 0,6 0,8 1,0 1,2 1,4 1,6 1,8 1900 1915 1930 1945 1960 1975 1990 2005 2020 2035 2050 80+ y 65-79 y 50-64 y 35-49 y 20-34 y 0-19 y Absolute size of different age groups in Finland, 1950–2050
  19. 19. The demographic wave caused by the baby boomers is seen as a tsunami that is going to hit the society very soon. But the baby boom was also relatively short in Finland, and, consequently, problems relating to the population ageing are becoming easier when we get rid of the baby boomers!
  20. 20. The timing of the Finnish Baby Boom: the number of the births by year 0 20000 40000 60000 80000 100000 120000 1940 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000
  21. 21. An alternative look at the baby boomers: they are considered as a generation that brings novelties with it. When the baby boomers were young and there were more teenagers than ever, a new kind of youth culture was born. When the baby boomers are old and there are more seniors than ever, they are believed to change practices of post retirement life.
  22. 22. Traditional taxonomies of life course are no more valid. People don’t turn “old” after retirement, but the early retirement years, i.e. the third age, form a unique life period filled with activities. It is supposed to be a prime of life.
  23. 23. A new kind of ”third age” is emerging because: 1) just now there will be a great number of people reaching retirement age (because of the baby boomers). 2) life expectancy in the beginning of the retirement age has significantly increased, and most of the new retirement years are healthy years. 3) people reach retirement age with different expectations and orientations than before and lifestyle of young pensioners are dissimilar from before.
  24. 24. Third age Productive ageing Active ageing
  25. 25. Activeness and its prerequisites are empirically studied also in the Lahti region. GOod Ageing in the Lahti region (GOAL) a.k.a Ikihyvä Päijät-Häme study, 2002–2012
  26. 26. 82–86 y 295 (35 %) 78–82 y 489 (44 %) 75–79 y 689 (53 %) 72–76 y 883 (62 %) 681 (57 %) 68–72 y 796 (63 %) 65–69 y 886 (66 %) 62–66 y 1023 (72 %) 721 (55 %) 58–62 y 717 (54 %) 55–59 y 840 (61 %) 52–56 y 908 (64 %) Year 2002 2005 2008 2012 GOod Ageing in the Lahti region (GOAL) 2002–2012 The design of the longitudinal cohort study
  27. 27. Economic situation and health status of the two cohorts at the age of 62–66 Cohort 1936–40 (2002) Cohort 1946–50 (2012) Working (at least part-time) 11 % 27 % Education: at least 10 years in school 33 % 56 % Median equivalent disposable income (per month, in fixed prices) 1256 € 1667 € Subjective financial well-being: respondent has managed to cover regular outlays easily 61 % 70 % Perceives one’s health as very or fairly good 46 % 66 % Prevalence of - coronary heart disease 10 % 4 % - neck or shoulder pain 47 % 30 % - diabetes mellitus 8 % 8 % - asthma 7 % 6 % Over the past month, how much of the time have you felt full of life? - most of the time 44 % 54 %
  28. 28. Use or lose A new look at the functional abilities: they are something people have to “use or lose”. Using them reproduces them, and a positive circle of activeness may emerge.
  29. 29. Changes in leisure time activities by age and gender: polynomial trends of those who have found a new hobby and those who have given up a hobby recently, and the difference between the groups (net change)
  30. 30. The proportion (%) of people who have travelled abroad during the last year, by gender and age group in 2002 and 2012 2002 2012 Men 82–86 y 24 72–76 y 38 48 62–66 y 48 52 52–56 y 52 Women 82–86 y 20 72–76 y 35 48 62–66 y 51 64 52–56 y 56
  31. 31. The proportion (%) of people who have travelled abroad during the last year, by gender and age group in 2002 and 2012 2002 2012 Men 82–86 y 24 72–76 y 38 48 62–66 y 48 52 52–56 y 52 Women 82–86 y 20 72–76 y 35 48 62–66 y 51 64 52–56 y 56
  32. 32. Active life style or cultural participation rewarding in itself, it gives joy and immediate social rewards also beneficial on the long run There is a wide evidence that cultural activeness and social participation may decrease morbidity and mortality and increase well-being in many ways. Adams, KB. et al. (2011) A critical review of the literature on social and leisure activity and wellbeing in later life. Ageing and Society, 31, 683–712. Markku T. Hyyppä: Kulttuuri pidentää ikää. Duodecim, Helsinki 2013. Kaisu Pitkälä ym.: Psykososiaalisen ryhmäkuntoutuksen vaikuttavuus. Vanhustyön keskusliitto, Helsinki 2005.
  33. 33. How to enhance the quality of life of elderly people? Health promotion and conventional measures are needed because they “add years to life”. Creative non-conventional measures are needed because they “add life to years”.
  34. 34. Man is a biographical creature. Age is not only a single crosscut, but plural and cumulative. It is a summary of the life lived. Old age, in this sense, is full of meanings. It is the richest period of life, because it includes also earlier life periods.
  35. 35. People’s biographies should be noticed and respected in care work and in all human encountering. A short presentation of the cases of reminiscence work where this was targeted. (Antti Karisto, Anja Kuhalampi, Arto Tiihonen, Terhi Willman: Identity Work with Creative Methods – Older Adults as Graphic and Personal Novelists. In Brian J. Worsfold, ed.: Acculturating Age. Approaches to Cultural Gerontology. Edicions i Publicacions de la Universitat de Lleida, Lleida 2011; 133–149.)
  36. 36. Case I: a creative writing group in a residential home in Helsinki Participants were first asked ”to write the first page of their autobiography”, and then ”the next of the pages”.
  37. 37. Autobiographical writing was considered to be a highly rewarding and empowering experience: “This is absolutely the best thing that has happened here.” “Now I’ve started to understand my close relatives and to know myself.” “During this process, some of the pieces have fallen into place.” “I’ve noticed that even I can write.”
  38. 38. Case II: a reminiscence group in Lahti where autobiographical pictures or cartoons were drawn describing wartime memories Surprising working method, because cartoons are commonly regarded as being a vehicle for young people’s self-expression and connected to funny things. However, also professionally made graphic novels have often dealt with painful experiences.
  39. 39. Ethical sensitivity is needed in this kind of creative work. However, it may help people to reflect their lives and to do “identity work”, and this may improve their abilities to cope with problems, strengthen life control etc.
  40. 40. The case of the day: the Stick project (presented more thoroughly by Satu Pekkarinen and Päivi Kuosmanen) Memory and reminiscence sticks (mSticks) are biographical memory stores, based on the USB-sticks, where e.g. family photos and biographical documents are stored. From this material different kind of presentations will be made and presented e.g. with the help of laptops and television.
  41. 41. Different ways to use the mStick: • it can be used in reminiscence sessions • it can be an excellent assistive device for care workers • it may be efficient in the testing and supporting of memory • it may improve quality of life of residents of institutions with memory problems • it may provide meaningful entertainment for active old people without any cognitive problems
  42. 42. The big ideas behind the Stick Project: * The importance of biographies * The creation of “generational intelligence”, counteracting age segregation * mStick may prevent one’s world from becoming narrower, which easily follows when people are growing old and their functional abilities deteriorate. * mStick enables being connected to other people, other places and other times (at least virtually) even in circumstances where one is bedridden.
  43. 43. Trends in gerontechnology: surveillance empowerment reactive proactive producer centered user centered medical focus quality of life focus smart homes real homes standardized solutions tailor made solutions replacing human contacts enriching human contacts Sticks are in the forefront of gerontechnology. They represent proactive, user-driven gerontechnology that empowers, not labels. They imply proactive and tailor- made solutions, the focus is on quality of life, and instead of replacing human contacts they are enriched.
  44. 44. Thank you! Dõmo arigatõ gozaimasu!