The future of ageing

Current Project

Current in-depth inquiry

Our latest inquiry will explore ethical questions in relation to the role of science and technology in helping people live well in old age.
Couple dancing

Evidence gathering

Engagement workshops

We are running a series of creative engagement workshops to enable our working group to hear directly from older people about their experiences of science and health technologies and their views on how these might affect their lives in future.

So far, we've held the following workshops:

Online workshop with members of the Bristol Older People’s Forum (BOPF)

11 August 2021

Members of the Bristol Older People's Forum were invited to draw how science and health technologies might support a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ older age. Working group member Muna Al-Jawad – a cartoonist, and consultant in medicine for older people at the Royal Sussex County Hospital – facilitated the workshop and invited participants to discuss their drawings and the ideas behind them.

Muna created a cartoon summarising participants’ drawings and discussions at the Bristol Older People’s Forum drawing workshop.

Open forum with members of the Greater Manchester Older People’s Network (GMOPN), and other residents in Manchester, organised in collaboration with Sonder Radio

The online event included a performance from renowned poet Roger McGough, who read his poem ‘Love later life’, a piece commissioned by Age UK in 2014. It also included performances from musician Martin Stephenson who performed ‘Old and only in the way’. The performances were used to open discussions with the workshop’s 15 participants around issues such as their concerns around getting older, the technologies that might be used to support them in older age, and what the future of ‘living well’ in older age might ‘look like’. A broadcast bringing together the participants' discussions was aired on Sonder Radio (watch below).

Workshop with West Bromwich African Caribbean Research Centre

23 March 2022

This workshop, facilitated by Bella Starling, Chair of the ageing working group, invited older members of the West Bromwich African Caribbean Research Centre to share their opinions on health and wellbeing technologies.

Upcoming workshop:

  • Intergenerational roundtable event in Exeter
  • Workshop with Growing Older with Learning Disabilities in Greater Manchester (GM GOLD)

Fact-finding sessions

We have held a series of fact-finding sessions to further explore topics relevant to our inquiry. We've held sessions on technology, geroscience, exploring understandings of ageing, and co-production.

Call for evidence and survey for practitioners that work with older people

We ran a call for evidence and survey for practitioners that work with older people from 8 June - 2 August 2021. If you would still like to contribute a response to the questions we raise in either of these, please contact Molly Gray.

Call for creative contributions

What does it mean to 'live well' in older age?

We are inviting those with an interest in ageing, research, science, and technology to send us their creative contributions.

We would like to read, see, watch, or listen to what you think it means to live well in older age. You might draw something, take a photograph or video, or write a story or poem about how you feel.

We have set out three scenarios (see scenarios below) which offer some issues that you might like to consider when sending your contributions, but you shouldn't feel constrained by them. You might prefer to highlight other aspects or issues around ‘living well in older age’ because of your opinions or experiences. We are open and welcome all of your thoughts and ideas.

For further information, please contact Molly Gray.

UK 2040 fictional scenario 1: moving online?

Universal access to high-speed internet has transformed both work environments and the health and care sectors. The greater shift to home working makes it easier for some people to stay in the workforce for longer and be better-off when they choose to retire. However, these effects are distributed unevenly as those in more physical or front-line roles cannot benefit, leading to increased income disparities in older age. The majority of health appointments are delivered online, although the password and security systems required to logon present a problem for a minority of older users. Social care services are provided through a combination of assistive devices, robot services and compulsory digital monitoring. Regular in-person care is regarded as a premium service, available at additional cost for those willing to pay.

UK 2050 fictional scenario 2: longer, healthier life for some?

New drugs to slow ageing have been developed, significantly delaying the onset of a number of conditions associated with ageing, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia, and extending overall life expectancy. However, they work much less effectively for people who are obese – who are already more likely to experience longer periods of ill-health in old age. With pressure on the country’s finances, difficult decisions have to be made between funding the costs of the new (relatively expensive) medicines; tackling the complex social and environmental factors associated with obesity; and funding better preventative health services that help improve mobility and wellbeing for all older people.

UK 2060 fictional scenario 3: who pays?

A second generation of drugs to slow ageing proves to be much more widely effective across the population. The introduction of legislation to cap industry profits at a low level on the grounds of public health ensures that they are much more affordable than in the past. However, despite the fact that people are living healthier lives for longer, it remains difficult for older people to remain in the workforce because of a preference for younger employees. Pensioner poverty increases, as does the cost to the public sector of paying state pensions for longer. A compulsory insurance system, introduced to meet the costs of long-term care, uses different levels of co-payment from older people and families, depending on the extent to which they can prove they have followed healthy ageing advice and medications in the past.

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