Innovating ageing. Together.

by Catherine Rickwood

5 hours.

That’s how much our life expectancy increases every day.

Thus, our lifespans are longer today than at any other time in history. So what does this mean for us?

Innovating ageing. Together.

In 1946 our average lifespan was 66 years of age. That gave us, on average, 12 months to hitch up the caravan to the Toyota and do our lap around Australia. Or if caravans aren’t your thing, perhaps fit in a cruise or two before we popped our socks and moved on from this life.

With lifespans extending into the early to mid-80’s we have an opportunity to reinvent ageing. To change how we become older. To innovate.

I’m fortunate to meet many baby boomers who are doing exactly that – changing the paradigm on ageing. From work to living to leisure. There’s creativity around housing, a desire to continue working, and leisure activities that go beyond the caravan and cruises.

Of course not everyone wants to do the type of work they’ve always done. So why not retrain? How about this for an inspiring story – a woman in her 90’s who has just graduated with a PhD? Or, become a more active campaigner for human or animal rights? Perhaps you have a hobby or skill you’d like to share with others or want to take up something new like these cheerleading grannies.

I recently met a former art teacher who now teaches art at a Seniors School. I have a couple of friends who are keen fly fishermen. I’d happily join one of their tours (if they decided to do these) to teach me how to fly fish and experience some of the stunning locations that accompany this sport. I have another friend who is an avid book reader and hiker. I’d love it if she had a hiking/book reading tour. Adventure and relaxation combined!

The opportunity for us to innovate ageing is limitless. And, it’s not limited to those over 50. The opportunity to innovate extends from the young to those older. Lifespans will continue to extend. Now is the time to think long term. I don’t mean thinking to 65 (or earlier) because that’s when we’re going to retire – no longer work. If you do retire at 65 then potentially you’ll live another 20 years or longer.  To do what? Travel? Relax?

Part of our challenge today is that we don’t have a model for how to age differently to what we’ve observed.

We’re innovators.

Let’s innovate.

Let’s unlock a new future. A different future for ageing.



Why? Because we’ll all be older one day, and what we co-create today will generate ideas and opportunities that don’t currently exist and could influence the choices we make regardless of our age.

What do you think? What are your plans?


Fun fact:

Baby boomers are the last generation to span a world with no world wide web and the internet world we all enjoy and experience today. 

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About the Author

Catherine Rickwood

An experienced researcher and business executive, Catherine's work is informed by academic knowledge and evidence to deliver practical actions with measurable outcomes. These combined skills create a powerful and useful ability to delve deep on issues, ask incisive questions, think laterally, and bring knowledge and insights to individuals, a team, and an organisation keen to engage with, and include the over 50's as a valuable part of their business strategy.

Catherine Rickwood is solutions-focussed, working with innovative organisations keen to improve customer and employee insights and empathy to increase their success in new markets, build loyalty, and increase innovation. She does this using a co-design process that engages employees and key stakeholders to create collaborative solutions. Contact Catherine to discover how her services can support your organisation to harness the changing demographic reality.

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