The world’s population is aging, and the United Nations’ World Population Aging report paints a striking picture of the future. It states, “Population aging is unprecedented, without parallel in human history—and the twenty-first century will witness even more rapid aging than did the century just past,”(see Figure 1). In the United States, for example, every day since 2011, 10,000 people turn 65 years old, and this trend will continue until 2029. By 2050, China will have more people aged 65 and older than the entire current population of the United States.
Wearing out, crumbling, declining, fading, waning, stale. These are just a few of the synonyms for aging on Thesaurus.com. On a slightly more positive note, though, the word-finder lists maturing, developing, mellowing and getting on. I guess you can’t argue with the English vernacular, but there are people and companies out there that are trying to put a more positive spin on the twilight years. And they’re not calling them the twilight years.
Disability Around the World
The chaotic, impenetrable streets of Tehran have left Navid, a multiple sclerosis sufferer, feeling like a prisoner in his home. Even for the able-bodied, the uncontrolled building spree of recent years means the Iranian capital can often seem like an assault course of narrow broken pathways, gutters full of rushing water, and cars shoved into every available inch of space.
“Imagine what being disabled in Africa is like.” You hear that surprisingly often. The most recent occurrence for me was when my wife alerted me to a (fierce) debate on Mumsnet on the subject of disabled parking (“Blue badge spaces don’t exist over there!”).
The humble thermos — a must-have item for tea-sipping middle-aged Chinese — may seem an unlikely viral sensation, but a photo of an aging rock star holding such a bottle recently sparked wide discussion on social media about aging, midlife crises, and fear of the future. In the widely circulated photo sits Zhao Mingyi, the 50-year-old drummer for the iconic ’90s rock band Black Panther. Once a muscular man, Zhao’s hair is now graying, he has a slight paunch, and — to complete the picture of middle age in its most distilled form — he holds a silver thermos. In his heyday during the early 1990s, however, Zhao was part of the generation of rockers who gave an energetic voice to China’s economic revival.
CVS Health, Walgreens and Walmart each received a perfect score of 100% on the 2017 Disability Equality Index, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to disability inclusion and workplace equality, administered by the U.S. Business Leadership Network and American Association of People with Disabilities. “It’s an honor to be acknowledged by the Disability Equality Index for our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce that aligns with our mission to champion everyone’s right to be happy and healthy,” stated Steve Pemberton, VP and global chief diversity officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance. “Our Walgreens Disability Inclusion Network business resource group has been especially helpful with evolving our policies and practices to help ensure we continue our historical commitment of employing people with disabilities.”
Hearing impairment is already linked to a heightened risk of cognitive decline in old age, and a new study suggests that impaired vision may carry the same risk. Based on data from two large studies of older Americans, researchers found those who had problems with distance vision were also two to three times as likely as those with strong vision to be cognitively impaired.
Regular vision screening of older Americans could help to catch people at greater risk of cognitive problems and dementia, the study team writes in JAMA Ophthalmology.
In recent months, Uber has shone a spotlight on the importance of cultivating diversity in tech, but there’s one aspect of diversity that remains largely untouched: Ability.People with disabilities–such as deafness, blindness, or conditions including autism and Asperger’s syndrome–comprise roughly 6 percent of the U.S. labor force, according to the most recent available data from the U.S. Census Bureau. And yet, those without disabilities are three times as likely to be employed.
The fight for proper representation for disabled people, pay equality, fair accessibility, and other marks of equal citizenry remains difficult and without foreseeable resolution, even in one of the richest nations on Earth. Part of the problem, some believe, is that able-bodied people — who are far more represented in legislatures and media alike — can easily exclude disabled people from their priorities, laws, and belief systems because they can’t imagine what it’s actually like to be disabled. Disability simulators — experiments that imitate the experience of being disabled for able-bodied people — are designed to increase empathy and awareness of the issues facing disabled people, but a new study suggests that these simulators are ineffective. What’s more, they may lead to able-bodied people being less informed about the experience of being disabled.
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