Friday, December 8, 2023

Celebrating 2022’s Achievements in Aging and Longevity and a Look at What’s Next

Welcome to the revolution – one that is underway to change the way we age and live our lives. Healthy aging and longevity have come to the forefront, recognized as the urgent, ground-breaking movements shaping our future as life expectancy rates continue to rise globally. 

Judging by the wave of new technology being developed for older people and the funds organizations are dedicating to research and advocacy, it’s clear that 2022 was an epic year for aging and longevity. The momentum is building as organizations devote more resources to finding answers and pushing for better ways to age dynamically.

At May’s World Economic Summit, longevity was the topic that dominated at a gathering of renowned experts and longevity venture builders. Partnerships are flourishing at a quickening pace between big business, new startups and venture capitalists as they seize on a wealth of opportunities within their reach. By June 2022, more than US$4 billion had been allocated to longevity businesses across all sectors, a number that had surpassed the 2021 total, according to a Forbes report.

We’re seeing new and notable names contributing to the rapid evolution of the sector. Jeff Bezos invested $3 billion in Altos Labs to drive the development of new longevity drugs. Pivotal Ventures, founded by Melinda French Gates, has partnered with Techstars for its Future of the Longevity Accelerator created to help start-ups develop innovative caregiving solutions. Media, too, is joining in with shows like Limitless, the new docuseries for National Geographic, hosted by actor Chris Hemsworth who aims to uncover the secrets of longevity. 

All these factors bode well for a dynamic future for aging and longevity. 

With so much happening in the space, it’s an opportune time for reflection. With that in mind, YouAreUNLTD asked five leading organizations across private/public/not-for-profit sectors that focused on disrupting how we view longevity and aging. They’ve shared their thoughts on what they achieved last year and what’s next. We know you’ll find their words inspiring.

We thrive to design for all walks of life as much as possible as we believe no one should be left behind.

Sara Aghvami, director, Best Buy Health, Best Buy Canada Ltd.

As we say goodbye to 2022, YouAreUNLTD is celebrating what it has accomplished, too. We collaborated globally with longevity thought leaders and shared knowledge and best practices across the Canadian ecosystem. We supported healthy aging initiatives working with public and private stakeholder groups and promoted innovation and advances in technology to help Canadians.

Looking ahead to 2023, we are dedicating our efforts to continuing public discourse on ageism and to partnering with organizations that can help change minds. We will heighten the conversation about healthy aging and promote it as as a major economic force. And we will reframe the aging narrative and inspire people to age powerfully.

Dr. Alex Mihailidis, CEO and scientific director, AGE-WELL NCE

What has your organization accomplished in 2022 that makes you proudest? 

We are proud of the ever-expanding number of AgeTech products produced by AGE-WELL teams, and our network’s growth in 2022. AGE-WELL counts 250+ researchers at 48 Canadian universities and research centres, 1,200+ trainees, 60+ start-up affiliates, 425+ industry, government and non-profit partners, and approximately 5,000 older adults and caregivers. We are grateful for the many people working devotedly with us to create the future of aging. 

How will you advance your healthy aging and longevity agenda in 2023?

Supporting healthy aging requires continued investment in research that feeds the innovation “pipeline.” AGE-WELL will continue to advocate for support for cutting-edge research that delivers life-changing technology-based solutions that benefit older adults and caregivers. 

Sara Aghvami, director, Best Buy Health, Best Buy Canada Ltd.

What has your organization accomplished in 2022 that makes you proudest?

Our team at Best Buy Health has worked hard to offer two service models. Best Buy Digital Citizen is a free and sustainable learning platform for older adults with the purpose of narrowing the digital divide. We recognize one’s environment has a great impact on several health and independence factors, i.e., we are supported by the environments we live in – our homes. Putting human needs in the centre, we designed Best Buy Healthy Homes, a service that supports older adults to live well in their homes. To show the heart of our business, we are including the service of @Geek Squad install and tutorial.

How will you advance your healthy aging and longevity agenda in 2023?

Our focus will continue to be creating new ways to enrich lives through technology. Our job is to simplify the selection of technology solutions by talking about real-life applications and ultimately show how technology can make a big difference in healthy aging and quality of life. We thrive to design for all walks of life as much as possible as we believe no one should be left behind.

David Sinclair, chief executive, ILC UK, and Margaret Gillis, president, ILC Canada, and co-president of International Longevity Centre (ILC) Global Alliance

The ILC Global Alliance is a 16-member strong organization aiming to help societies to address longevity and population aging in productive ways. It is a specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society and what happens next. While each organization under the ILC umbrella is separate, they share similar goals and vision. 

David Sinclair, ILC UK

What has your organization accomplished in 2022 that makes you proudest?

This year has been a momentous one for ILC UK. It celebrated its 25th anniversary, kicking off the year with three influential and symbolic projects – the pragmatic economic case for extending the UK’s State Pension Age, Generation Vax report and the Work for Tomorrow competition. 

We published numerous reports and held events worldwide. In June, Baroness Sally Greengross passed away short of her 87th birthday. She created a think tank to look at the opportunities and challenges of longevity in 1997. As we reflect on her legacy and look forward, we ended the year with two standout sessions at our Future of Ageing Conference on dementia. 

How will you advance your healthy aging and longevity agenda in 2023?

ILC UK is building the Healthy Ageing and Prevention Index. For the first time, it will map how countries fare in terms of healthy aging and create a tool to see which interventions have the greatest impact on healthy aging. The goal is to shine a light on how healthy aging supports not only health and welfare but the economy and environment and, most importantly, hold governments to account to act. 

The ILC-UK holds Canada up as a shining light for its relative spending on prevention and has called on other G20 countries to similarly invest at least 6% of their health budgets on preventative interventions.

It’s clear that 2022 was an epic year for aging and longevity. The momentum is building as organizations devote more resources to finding answers and pushing for better ways to age dynamically.

Margaret Gillis, ILC Canada

What has your organization accomplished in 2022 that makes you proudest?

In July, ILC Canada hosted a “soft launch” of the Canadian Coalition Against Ageism (CCAA). It aims to transform policies, practices, power dynamics, social norms and mindsets that underlie ageism by investing in evidence-based strategies, improving data and research, and changing the narrative around age and aging. 

This year, ILC Canada representatives also spoke at key international events, including efforts to highlight the need for a United Nations convention on the rights of older persons. 

How will you advance your healthy aging and longevity agenda in 2023?

We will continue to expose and educate on ageism through the CCAA and a multi-year, multi-pronged, collaboration and set of actions across sectors and disciplines. Its three main targeted, strategic, evidence-based interventions will include education across the lifespan, enhanced intergenerational relations, and influencing policy and laws.

ILC Canada plans to lead the CCAA campaign in partnership and collaboration with older persons, major Canadian and international organizations and to create a network of committed stakeholders.

Mel Barsky, director, business development, Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI)

What has your organization accomplished in 2022 that makes you proudest?

The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation proudly launched the Leap platform. Leap is an online community where older adults and caregivers share, learn, collaborate, and advise on solutions being developed to make aging better. Members from around the world co-design with innovators to improve the usability of products and to advocate for an age-friendly society. 

How will you advance your healthy aging and longevity agenda in 2023?

It is key that we continue to develop innovative AgeTech solutions for the benefit of Canadians, and aging adults globally. We also look globally to bring the best AgeTech innovations to Canada that will improve the lives of older adults, their caregivers, and improve our care delivery. The United Nations’ Decade of Healthy Ageing’s theme of Age-Friendly Environments clearly identifies the need to implement technologies that will allow us, as we age, to continue to do the things we value.

Gregor Sneddon, executive director, HelpAge Canada

What has your organization accomplished in 2022 that makes you proudest?

In Canada, we delivered granting, home sharing and digital literacy programming for 7000+ older persons. We also established a national coalition to convene and elevate the efforts of the pan-Canadian community-based senior serving (CBSS) sector. Overseas, HelpAge Canada provided more than $6 million in humanitarian relief for older Ukrainian refugees and supported more than 50,000 internally displaced persons in Ethiopia. 

How will you advance your healthy aging and longevity agenda in 2023?

CBSS organizations are lifelines, helping older Canadians to age in community. We envision a nationwide network where these organizations access knowledge and support from one another and from us. This ecosystem needs recognition, resources and infrastructure to create a society inclusive of older persons.

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YouAreUNLTD is a purpose driven brand, disrupting and redefining what it means to get older. We are a fresh voice to provide people with the inspiration and resources to help them age powerfully.