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Discussion Details

EPALE Discussion: Active Ageing and Life Transitions

What is challenging about life transitions? How could Intergenerational learning help with Active Ageing and Life Transitions?

On 15 July 2021 at 10 a.m. CEST we will host a live-streamed discussion on Active Ageing and Life Transitions, moderated by Gina Ebner and Christin Cieslak of the EAEA joined by Dina Soeiro and Susannah Chambers.

EAEA's representatives will engage Dina and Susannah in a discussion on Active Ageing and Life Transitions. What do we mean when we use those terms? What are the potential chances and challenges which might come with Active Ageing and during Life Transitions?

The Topics

Our guest speakers will talk about the individual and the European level. We will also have a look at the current stand of Active Ageing in Europe and will explore whether and how the EU currently supports Active Ageing and Life Transitions. The discussion will also focus on what best practice examples can teach us about how to foster Active Ageing in a realistic, non-idealised way, creating more inter-generational solidarity and cohesion in Europe.

  • What do we mean by active ageing?
  • What is challenging about life transitions?
  • How could Intergenerational learning help with Active Ageing and Life Transitions?

The Speakers

Dina Soeiro, a member of the Directive Commission at the Portuguese Association for Culture and Permanent Education (APCEP) and newly confirmed board member of EAEA, Dina has 22 years of teaching experience as professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra.

Susannah Chambers, is a Family Learning expert with 17 years of experience designing and delivering intergenerational learning. She is the founder of Families Learning and is passionate about the power and unique potential of Family Learning as a vehicle to support active ageing and life transitions. She has 3 children and has dual British-Slovak nationality.

 

Save the Date!

The discussion will take place here on 15 July 2021 starting from 10 a.m. CEST with a live streaming, followed by a writter discussion hosting your contributions. The written discussion will be moderated by the EAEA.

You are warmly invited to share you experience and initiatives on Active Ageing, Intergenerational Cooperation and Solidarity, and Life Transitions. Comments will be open in advance, starting from 2 July 2021.

 

 

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Komentari

Since the active discussion time has come to an end, we would like to send a very big thank you to everybody who has participated in the discussion through reading/listening, liking and commenting. Your input is very much appreciated and did provide for further discussions.

This being said, we warmly invite you to continue to raise questions, answer to comments or raise new issues! We would love for the discussion to continue and provide us with more insight in your thoughts, your experience and your work.

A big thank you also again to our two guest speakers, Dina and Susannah!

Your EPALE and EAEA team.

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Thank you for the active discussion to all the participants, Susana, Christin and Gina.

I'm very grateful for the opportunity to share and learn from you! 

I hope we can work together in the near future! 

Sara and Claudia, thanks for the excellent technical support.

With hope and friendship,

Dina.

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Did we already talk about the challenges of getting older in rural areas? Apart from limitations accessing high speed internet, many "traditional" opportunities to meet socially are getting more and more lost - and digital gatherings are not everything you need in life. Any ideas how to tackle this? I.e. in Germany, we have some local activities like "Dorfmoderation" (village facilitation) where locals meet and discuss ideas to uphold social life in villages.

Examples can be found here in Lower Saxony / Germany (in German language only): https://www.dorfmoderation-niedersachsen.de/

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Very important question, Tino. 

We have to go where people are with decentralized opportunities, itinerant offers. 

I invite you to read this paper where EAEA discusses that question and gives 3 great examples:

https://eaea.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/EAEA-Outreach-and-Access-background-paper.pdf

 

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Very well said, Christin. We have a great challenge ahead to rebuild post-COVID and also great opportunities to redefine perceptions about how to engage with older generations. I look forward to learning further from you given your gerontology research expertise.

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Yes I agree the current pandemic has set new challenges among the older generations.  I personally have experienced instances where adult embarked on a learning path to adjourn themselves but cannot generalise.  

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Did we already talk about the challenges of getting older in rural areas? Apart from limitations accessing high speed internet, many "traditional" opportunities to meet socially are getting more and more lost - and digital gatherings are not everything you need in life. Any ideas how to tackle this? I.e. in Germany, we have some local activities like "Dorfmoderation" (village facilitation) where locals meet and discuss ideas to uphold social life in villages.

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Excellent point! On the other hand - and allow me to present some anecdotal experience - people generally know what's going on in a small town or village. My father-in-law tends to be out and about all the time. My mother (same age, living in Vienna) knows much less what's going on in her neighbourhood. Not sure if this proves a point.

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Let me throw in another topic - life transitions. Do you know of any specific offers or projects that support people with transitions?

It is clear that adult learning and education in general give support, but does anyone know of specific examples?

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What holds a generation together, how do the generations relate to each other, how much diversity is there in one and the same generation? The Agency for Adult and Further Education in Lower Saxony / Germany has published in 2015 a journal dedicated to these topics, including some interesting practice examples. It is available for download here (in German language): 

https://www.aewb-nds.de/fileadmin/content/Dokumente_Publikationen/AEWB_…

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I would like to circle back to one of the issues raised during the live discussion, negative stereotypes.

Considering these as one burden to reach a more inclusive and equal society, we would like to know what you do consider the most harmful stereotypes conflicting active ageing and life transitions. 

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We need to be careful about most generalisations ('Old people are...') - old people are slow / old people have more difficulties learning / old people prefer this or that - all of this might be true for some but not others. Donald has pointed out earlier that we age within our contexts, and as they're all different...

 

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Let me bring up a subject that has been mentioned a couple of times already: what does it mean if we have to (can?) work longer? What impact does that have on skills development, well-being, learning? Any thoughts?

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My personal feeling is that with a certain age, I would like to spend more time transferring knowledge and experience to TNG rather than gathering new skills myself, perhaps in a flexible model of intergenerational mutual exchange. This could be linked to industries, organisations, regions or whatever.

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Are companies really aware of how much knowledge they lose when someone retires? I agree with you that it would be less stressful and also more valuable if employees of a certain age spent more time passing on knowledge and experience to younger team members - also from the point of view of the benefit for the company.

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We will not find a feasible solution if we only look at the workers/employees in this question. As you mentioned Gina, we have to consider "have to" and "can" work longer.

In the future, the labour market will have to show much more flexibility when it comes to employment and how we define employability. Whoever wants to and is able to work longer, so be it. Not being able to work any more because your body and or mind won't allow for it, must not lead to poverty among seniors to the extent it does now.

We need a more flexible and thus fairer system that also looks at the sector people have been working in during their lives and that might not allow for a later retirement.

 

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I completely agree. There is a huge difference between someone that works in an office and someone that works in a factory behind an assembly line. The level of body degradation in these positions is very much like day and night. Thus people need the choice in a certain age to have a say about what they want for themselves in their next period of life.

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I completely agree with you, Christin, concerning the "have to" and "can". As a matter of fact, when I hear voices discussing the issue of working until 70 or longer and what it means for lifelong learning , it makes me think of who is really meant - the ones who want to work longer, or the ones who have to - and if we talk about the latter, is it because of the age pyramid, or because those who have to work longer spent many years in low paid jobs, had to do family work for a period or whatever? 

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Tino, gerontologists have been warning about the age pyramid for a long, long time - therefore I am afraid we are talking about the latter point you have made. Going from there, as long as we are holding on to an outdated system that obliges people to work longer and does not provide an inclusive, right based access to learning, we will not be able to foster active ageing and wellbeing to their full extent.

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I agree with the above points and I believe the lifelong learning process is crucial to all cohorts of society.  It is important to keep constantly updated with new trends.  Morover, I think this applies to both contexts in this case.  

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If ageing is to be a positive experience, longer life must be accompanied by continuing opportunities for health, participation and security. Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health,participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.Active ageing applies to both individuals and population groups. It allows people to realize their potential for physical, social, and mental well being throughout the life course and to participate in society according to their needs, desires and capacities, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they require assistance. The word “active” refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labour force. Older people who retire from work and those who are ill or live with disabilities can remain active contributors to their families, peers, communities and nations. Active ageing aims to extend healthy life expectancy and quality of life for all people as they age, including those who are frail, disabled and in need of care. “Health” refers to physical, mental and social well being as expressed in the WHO definition of health. Thus, in an active ageing frame-work, policies and programmes that promote mental health and social connections are as important as those that improve physical health status.Maintaining autonomy and independence as one grows older is a key goal for both individuals and policy makers . Moreover, ageing takes place within the context of others – friends, work associates, neighbours and family members. This is why interdependence as well as intergenerational solidarity (two-way giving and receiving between individuals as well as older and younger generations) are important tenets of active ageing. Yesterday’s child is today’s adult and tomorrow’s grandmother or grandfather. The quality of life they will enjoy as grandparents depends on the risks and opportunities they experienced throughout the life course, as well as the manner in which succeeding generations provide mutual aid and support when needed.

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I very much enjoyed listening in on your discussion this morning.

Having been involved in further & adult education before I retired (and became a PhD research student), I was interested to see your topic for today. On the YouTube chat I followed up on Susannah and Dina's comments with a mention of the widely referenced 4-part paradigm used to think about "lifecourse" .. ‘location’, ‘linked lives’, ‘human agency’ and ‘timing’ Elder, G. H. and Giele, J. Z. (Eds) (2009), The Craft Of Life Course Research: Guilford Press.

ConConceptual framework for JG Research Study.

The attached image is the introductory conceptual framework from my 'soon-to-be-submitted' thesis, "Becoming Older, Being Well", .. the practical context of the study (rather than the academic thesis) is introduced at https://bit.ly/36DTmIE 

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Thank you so much for this John,

I am absolutely thrilled to see that you put learning in the middle and anchor point for everything else. 

I am curious to hear what you think are the biggest barriers to overcome in older age to participate in learning, and whether these things are linked to the negative stereotypes we have discussed in the live discussion?

Hoping that you don't mind me saying this, but I can see a high potential of an either (self-fulfilling) positive or negative spiral/prophecy in your image. If you can agree, how do you reckon these can be burst through?

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Thank you Christin.

The 'learning' that underpins our journey through later life is, for me, the continuous participation-reification process shwon as the blue zig-zag line in the diagram at https://bit.ly/3wIU5Tc which represents the 'meaning making' that our continuous participation in 'community' (real physical, or virtual) facilitates. Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

My empirical work shows that in my own village very few older people are at all interested in formal learning, though a significant majority tell me that they learn from the internet all the time. That said, I believe we learn in everything we do. I asked all the people I interviewed "What does learning mean to you?", and one woman said, after thinking about it, "Learning is being changed by experience, so that you can tackle things better the next time" which I think is still the best definition I ever heard. It's universal ...

At a philosophical level, Carl Jung's concept of individuation proposes that it is only in later life that we discover our real self as our identity accommodates to that lived experience.

At a practical level, it's about making the best of what we have, in an age-friendly community (my local audit is at https://bit.ly/3yXPgak based on the WHO Age Friendliness criteria) there are learning stimulii and opportunites everywhere and the barriers you refer to are all in there.

I believe that bursting through them is more about building local community capital rather than top-down programmes targetting segments of the community.

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Thanks for sharing that great research example Dad!

 

Fab that we're rocking the Intergenerational Learning approach right here on this thread as father and daughter!

 

Interesting to hear your reflections too in the context of the other questions and comments on this thread.

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Good Afternoon Susie -- I enjoyed the day's exchanges.

As you know, I realise I was on a slightly different tack than most of the contributors, being less focused these days on 'provision' and 'policy' than when I was working ... naturally, the range and geography of contributions was an interesting reminder of the days I was a regular Brussels visitor as a member of the EU Information Society Forum.

Certain aspects of things that were just far away horizon issues then - online learning in particular - have changed dramatically, having now become accessible to all.

Thanks for letting me know about it, I enjoyed the presentations and there was lots of interest in the comments thread.

Dad

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