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Older Adults Leaders in Innovation

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

Flip your thinking. Imagine if we lived in a world where we thought of old age as a period of time when older adults could do more - and be more? It's not fiction. It's a true story that's unfolding in our own little town with incredible results, as people heard on ABC Radio (interview at 24.00 - 33.00 minutes) this morning.

Ageism the 'ultimate waste'

In May 2019, a US Study found that the hobbies and activities of older adults are sources of innovation that benefit the entire community. The research was presented at an international cyberscience and health alliance conference just before the pandemic hit. Researchers argued that failing to recognise - and support - the innovative potential of older people was the ultimate waste and one that was costing everyone.

Taking care to benefit all.

Older adults are often leaders in innovation who use their knowledge and creativity to revitalise communities, improve the environment, and pass on skills and hobbies, said researcher John Carroll, professor of information sciences and technology and an associate of the Institute for CyberScience at Penn State.

Carroll said he hoped the findings of the research would help change current notions of aging.

“The idea behind the project is [to] reframe old age as a time when people can contribute and have capacity and are valuable and creative,” explained Carroll. “It is very different from the traditional way of looking at aging, which is to see people as they age as requiring custodial care, becoming things that we need to take care of."

In Clunes - we understand this.

When you look at the history of Clunes it often seems that traditional ways of thinking have a habit of being tweaked when tweaking is needed. This ability to recognise when change is required and the confidence to act collectively is one of the real assets of the Clunes community.

Attitude: Ageing Well in Clunes is a stellar example of this. As explained in the radio interview (really well worth listening to!) it demonstrates that by taking a collective, and different approach to meeting people's needs, Clunes may have found a better approach for all.

You could say it's ironic that Attitude: Ageing Well in Clunes is a collective of those older, innovative leaders in our community that the US researchers were talking about. But you won't. Why? Because (as that US study found) it's no surprise that when you support the people in your community who have years of experience, richly diverse backgrounds and enough life learning to want to give back - that you gain hitherto unimagined results for all.

Since launching their program in February this year, Attitude have had 732 participants involved in more than 120 activities. Pretty damned impressive for a town of just 2000 people.

Like and Follow Attitude: Ageing Well in Clunes on Facebook.

AUTHOR: Lana de Kort.

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