Negotiating Ageing, rhythms of the lifecourse

Book cover, Negotiating Ageing

The newly released book ‘Negotiating Ageing: Cultural Adaptation to the Prospect of a Long Life’, written by CDPC lead researcher, Professor Simon Biggs, declares the world needs to take notice of a previously unknown phenomenon that is taking the world by storm: the ageing of the population and its accompanying personal, cultural and societal impacts.

Never before in human history has each generation been of an equal size - provoking the need of a radical shift in our responses to intergenerational relations and the purposes of a long life. Global ageing, Professor Biggs points out, is a historically unprecedented phenomenon. The book is an important contribution to the dialogue on ageing and the defining and redefining of our notions of ageing.

How do we adapt to these changes as a society and personally? Professor Biggs in addressing this points out that ageing needs to be viewed from a holistic perspective. Chapters in the book deal with ageing through the wide lens of demographics, the lifecourse, dementia, the anti-ageing phenomenon, public policy, the role of work and its relation to healthy ageing, the spiritual dimension of ageing, gerotranscendence, the changing nature of family and generational intelligence.

Generational Intelligence is a theory that describes the psychological aspect of ageing and the meaning of moving into “elderhood” that is accompanied by changing intergenerational relationships. Gerotranscendence is a term that describes changes in perspective accompanying ageing, such as notions of space and time, less interest in the material world and socialising indiscriminately.

Simon states in the conclusion that contemporary preoccupations with labour economics, work and economy are an insufficient basis on which to judge the value and purpose of life and stresses the importance of reviewing existing social, psychological and biological narratives of ageing.

And “we need to adapt both to a changing balance between generations and to find new purposes for a long life," he said.