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Embracing the Silver Tsunami: a look into our ageing global population

The world is on the brink of a significant demographic shift. By 2100, the United Nations projects that there will be more than 3.1 billion people aged 60 years and over, up from about 1 billion today. This 'silver tsunami' is a global phenomenon that will reshape societies, economies, and cultures worldwide. But what does this ageing population mean for our future? Let's explore some insightful TED Talks that cast light on this fascinating subject.

First, we have Laura Carstensen, a psychologist and ageing expert who delivered a thought-provoking TED Talk titled "Older people are happier." In her talk, Carstensen refutes the common stereotype that ageing is synonymous with despair and unhappiness. She presents studies showing that emotional well-being improves as we age, resulting in happier, more content older adults.

Carstensen's perspective challenges us to rethink how we view ageing. The growing number of older people worldwide could mean a shift toward a more emotionally balanced society. As we plan for the future, it's essential to consider this evidence and work towards societies where people of all ages can thrive.

Click the image to watch her talk

Next up is Jared Diamond, a world-renowned scientist who gave an enlightening TED Talk titled "How societies can grow old better." Diamond emphasizes the importance of social interactions and remaining active for older adults. He cites examples of traditional societies, such as in New Guinea, where older adults are valued for their wisdom and experience and continue to play active roles in society.

Diamond's discussion suggests that our current societal structures might need to adapt to accommodate the growing older population. As we continue to live longer lives, it becomes crucial to find ways to remain productive and engaged. This perspective encourages us to view the ageing population not as a burden, but as a reservoir of untapped potential.

Click the image to watch his talk

Ageing and technology is another area that deserves our attention. In her TED Talk "Let's design social media that drives real change," Wael Ghonim discusses how to leverage technology to bring about positive societal change. Although Ghonim doesn't focus on ageing, the principles she outlines can be applied to help us better integrate older adults into our increasingly digital world.

Click the image to watch his talk

As our global population ages, it's crucial to ensure that older adults are not left behind by rapid technological advancements. Inclusive design can make digital platforms more accessible and beneficial for older users, promoting social connection and continued learning.

The demographic shift also has significant implications for the economy. Alexander Betts, in his TED Talk titled "Our refugee system is failing. Here's how we can fix it," discusses the economic contributions made by refugees. While Betts' talk focuses on refugees, his central point about recognizing overlooked economic contributions can be applied to the ageing population.

You can watch his talk by clicking the image

Older adults have valuable skills, experience, and wisdom to offer. By providing opportunities for older adults to continue contributing to the workforce, we can both benefit from their expertise and bolster our economies. It's time we start viewing older adults as an asset rather than a liability.

Finally, Jane Fonda's inspiring TED Talk "Life's third act" gives us a glimpse into the potential of our later years. Fonda discusses the concept of "life's third act," the extra 30 years that have been added to our life expectancy in the past century, and the potential these years hold for personal growth and societal contribution.

Fonda's view of ageing is not just about longevity but the quality of life. She emphasizes that these additional years aren't just a footnote or a path to the end, but a whole new act in our lives—an 'encore'—filled with opportunities for growth and contribution. As the global population continues to age, we are likely to see an increased number of older adults seeking meaningful engagement and personal development during their 'third act'.

Click the image to watch her talk

All of these insightful perspectives from thought leaders suggest that the ageing of our global population is not a crisis but an opportunity. It's a chance to leverage the wisdom and experience of older generations, while also ensuring their well-being and contribution to society.

So, how do we navigate this demographic shift successfully? The answer lies in embracing inclusivity, valuing lifelong contributions, and fostering intergenerational connections.

Inclusivity means designing societies, systems, and technologies that cater to all ages. As Wael Ghonim emphasizes, social media and other digital platforms must be designed in a way that is accessible and beneficial for older adults. This approach not only ensures that older adults can stay connected and informed, but it also opens up opportunities for them to contribute to the digital world.

Valuing lifelong contributions involves recognizing and harnessing the skills and experience of older adults. As Alexander Betts points out, every demographic group, including older adults, can contribute significantly to our economies and societies. We need to create opportunities for older people to continue to work, learn, and contribute to their communities.

Fostering intergenerational connections is about building strong relationships between younger and older generations. Not only does this improve social cohesion, but it also allows for the sharing of wisdom and experience. As Laura Carstensen and Jared Diamond highlight, older adults have much to offer in terms of emotional balance and wisdom.

In conclusion, the 'silver tsunami' represents a momentous shift in our global demographic landscape. While it presents some challenges, it also offers immense opportunities. By embracing the potential of our ageing population and adapting our societies to be more inclusive and appreciative of all ages, we can turn this demographic trend into one of our greatest assets.

These TED Talks provide us with a roadmap to navigate this demographic shift and remind us of the beauty and potential that comes with ageing. It is our responsibility to ensure that as people live longer lives, they also live better lives, filled with happiness, purpose, and connection. So, let's reimagine ageing and embrace the 'silver tsunami' with open arms and open minds.


If you want to join the wider conversation around population then join us for our final TEDxBrayford Pool Salon of the year, Population, at Southside, Lincoln. Click on the image to book tickets.



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