By Nikki Beckman, Director of Research, Life3A
A recent catch up amongst our global studio revealed an unexpected secret. Many of us who are working from home, balancing life in and out of lockdown, are finding joy and more meaningful connections to the practice of architectural design and ageing, by reading more. And books no less!
Perhaps it is the immersive nature of books which have provided a welcomed distraction from pandemic fatigue and the never-ending news cycles and articles which follow. And by extension, a change in the way we have come to consume information – typically with rapid urgency – and the subsequent knock on affect it places on the demand for new innovation or breakthroughs – feeding our addiction to consume new information with every re-fresh.
By contrast, books offer an unparalleled deeper understanding of material and perspective. They demand a deeper focus and engagement by the reader, forcing a slowing down of the consumption of its content, allowing the messaging or themes time and space to breath and manifest in other thoughts or ideas. Generally revealing a more profound understanding of the material, its context relative to other ideas or concepts, and an annoying urge to enquire further or deeper.
We covered a lot of ground in our discussion. From the big picture stuff people were drawn to, like discoveries in medical research or neurological breakthroughs, to technology enablers, or physiological indicators to living well – not just living longer – the economics of ageing, and health equality. Down to the micro, more intimate and personable stories in which people were consumed by, such as understanding what it feels like to live every day with a diagnosis of dementia, or discovering children’s books which illustrate a way to help families to talk to children about dementia.
I was fascinated by it all.
On the back of this engaged conversation, inspired by the depth of reading by Design Director Axel Klein, Life3A research has launched its very own book club. A curated ‘library’ encouraging virtual exchange and dialogue amongst our team and more broadly within our network. The intention is to share inspired stories of lived experiences, recommended reads, bright minds and innovative thinkers who are experts in their field – or perspective – contributing knowledge across the vast and complex ecosystem that informs and impresses our understandings of what it means to live and age well.
To celebrate, and as a first offering, we have compiled a list of top 10 list must reads. Books that have profoundly impacted, advanced, and changed the lives of our team for the better
1. What the hell happened to my brain? Living beyond Dementia, by Kate Swaffer
A powerfully vivid and personal account of living with dementia. Exploring the effects of memory difficulties, loss of independence, leaving long-term employment, the impact on her teenage sons, and the enormous impact of the diagnosis on her sense of self
2. Dancing with Memories, by Sally Yule, Professor Ralph Martins and Maggie Beer
A beautifully illustrated children’s book helping young people to better understand dementia and the role they can play supporting people living with dementia in their family or community.
3. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
A meditation on how people can better live with age-related frailty, serious illness, and approaching death, emphasising the notion that people nearing death should be given the opportunity to live a meaningful life and still have purpose.
4. The Changing Mind: A Neuroscientist's Guide to Ageing Well, by Dan Levitin
A thought provoking read about the neurological changes that occur in our brain ‘from womb to tomb’, and a radical exploration of what we all can learn from those who age joyously.
5. The Longevity Economy, by Joe Coughlin
A ground-breaking read providing insights to help businesses connect with older consumers, who continue to defy expectations, contribute to economic growth, and build a better, enduring vision of old age.
6. I'm Still Here, by John Zeisel
A breakthrough approach to understanding someone living with Alzheimer's.
7. Inquiry by Design, by John Zeisel
An illustrated, evidence-based, read on the impact of design and the built environment on our behaviour and neurological responses.
8. Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of Care, by Allen Power
An inspiring look at reframing the care and support of people living with dementia.
9. My Journey into Alzehimer's Disease, by Robert Davis
The first published author to put pen to paper on his account of living with Alzheimer’s.
10. The Age Tech Revolution, by Keren Etkin
A fascinating read about the intersection of technology and ageing.
Please join us by contributing your recommendations of favourite authors or must-read books in the ageing space, so that we can add it to our collection and continue to share, learn and grow.