News & Views – Embracing Life Long Learning
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
The world has changed significantly in the last year. This time last year we embarked on a mission to help people adopt voice assistant technology so that they could more easily communicate with their friends and family. At the same time, we started to learn more about the technology landscape and the significant barriers to adoption. We then started to examine in more detail the potential within smart speaker technology to augment their capability. This research and development work led us to create our Kindspace voice application for Alexa.
On this journey we have learned a lot, but there is always more to learn and so we thought it would be nice to share here some of our discoveries and thoughts. Curating for you interesting data, research and articles on how technology can be used to help us live our best lives. The more that we’ve learned, the more we realise that healthy ageing is not about how old you are but ensuring that you are supporting your body to age well, no matter what your current age is. And that what influences our health is a very complex mix of factors, advice needs to be personalised and any interventions or “nudges” should be well timed to promote healthy habits. That said, it is never too late to make a change and prioritise your self-care.
The other really important observation that we’ve made is that there is too much information out there and it can be difficult to navigate, particularly if you are not confident using the internet. Further to this, is that often news is sensationalised and focuses on negative connotations or tries to label people and the societal challenges we face.
We love to share the things we find interesting relating to technology, wellbeing, housing and social care. Over the last year we’ve noticed a really large upsurge in articles centred around wellbeing and loneliness in particular. There are some really valuable insights and ideas from across the world and we wanted to make sure that these don’t get lost in our social media feeds. So, from now on, this will be the main place where we’ll curate content in the form of a weekly round-up.
In this week’s instalment I’ll provide insight into:
- The amazing Inspire Makaton Choir concert.
- My top picks from Mental Health Awareness Week, including online nature meditation sessions, new innovative video content which offers peer support and opens up the conversation about mental health, how financial wellbeing impacts mental health and the calming effect of animals.
- The impact that our upbringing and education has on our longevity and how well we age.
Last Week’s News & Views
The Inspire Makaton Choir
I had the honour of being part of the Inspire PTL Makaton Choir performance on Tuesday. This was the culmination of months of practice, and it was amazing to see and feel the energy from the choir who put on an amazing performance. You can check it out over on the Inspire YouTube channel. I struggle with my motor skills sometimes, so challenging myself to learn something new, so challenging myself to learn something new has been a great experience.
Get Out in Nature
This year’s mental health awareness week has seen an explosion in the number of events people can participate in, many delivered online. The theme centres around the power that nature has to soothe and heal us. I grew up next to both the sea and a lovely deciduous woodland. I have strong memories of being in those spaces to escape from the world around me and just soak in the atmosphere, bird song, rustling leaves, the swoosh of the waves and fresh smell of the ocean.
I now live quite far from the sea and so was delighted when Mindful Stonehaven held an online guided meditation at the beach as part of their mental health awareness series of events. You can check it out by clicking here.
When I was growing up we didn’t have any money, the bailiffs were round frequently to cease stuff. Money is the root of significant stress and can really impact on physical and mental wellbeing. Particularly today, when many more are dealing with redundancy, reduced working hours, ill health and bereavement, I thought I’d share some useful support links. The first is from Martin Lewis of the Money Saving Expert. If you have gotten into debt, this eBook resource will help guide you on how to improve your situation. If you are in a place of relative financial security, then some advice from Deepak Chopra on how to find financial wellbeing might help. In this article he gives a simple exercise that you can try to become more mindful of your feelings towards money.
Innovative Mental Health Support
Staying with the theme of mental health there were a few other stories that caught my eye. We’re really happy to see Frog Systems investment news to help them expand their mental health support platform. Frog’s mission is a little different as they focus on lived experience and curating and sharing video content on specific mental health issues. I think this makes it very relatable to people when they are working through their own issues and much more impactful. The learning is much more immersive and likely to be acted upon. You can read more about this story here.
There is a lot of research about the calming effects that animals can have. Many of us have gotten a new pet for company over the last year and the use of specially trained therapy pets is shown to be particularly beneficial for people who are unwell, or have disabilities or who are elderly. So how about this for a story, “Feeling lonely in lockdown? Try hugging a sheep”. A farm near Hattingen in Germany has opened its doors for people to come and meet their sheep and give them a stroke and a cuddle. This service is a lovely extension of the educational work that the farm also does.
Premature Death Risk Factors
And finally, Thomas had the opportunity over the last week to be part of a Mash-up/Design Sprint with Herriot Watt University looking at how technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, the internet of things and 5G can be used to support care delivery and independent living. There was one presentation that really struck me looking at the research into the preventable risk factors associated with premature death. As you might expect our lifestyle choices and habits have a strong influence on this. But the graphic shown in the presentation showed that a lot of the issues of poor health in later life actually stem from our level of education when we are young. This has to be something that we can do something about. Can we do more to help people to embrace learning for life?
If anything, this last year has shown how important it is to be adaptable. Embracing change is hard and dealing with negative situations even harder. But if we see change as a learning opportunity it can really help our mindset and allow us to thrive even in adversity. So I’d urge you all to embrace learning, however small as it will keep your mind active, give you new things to talk about with friends and family, open up new networks and hopefully even allow you to enjoy a few extra years of retirement.
We’d love to know what you think of this new format and whether you find it helpful. Our aim is to make content as accessible as possible, hence the audio recording summarising the news as well.
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