ASSAf tackles Ageing at the Innovation Bridge-Science Forum South Africa
The 2019 Science Forum South Africa organised by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Innovation Bridge took place from 4 – 6 December 2019 at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Relations International Convention Centre (CSIR-ICC) in Pretoria. The theme for this year’s science forum was Igniting Conversations about Science for Innovation with Impact. The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosted a session on ageing titled Unravelling age and the ageing mind-set in the fourth industrial revolution on 4 December 2019. Discussions focused on tackling stereotypes and the impact technology has on the ageing population.
According to statistics, 962 million of the global population are over the age of 60 with China recording the highest number. Professor Ben Loos from the University of Stellenbosch spoke about the molecular mechanisms and imaging tools used to study Alzheimer and autophaging”. “Though we cannot stop the process of ageing, leading a certain lifestyle can prolong one’s lifespan”, he said. It was a revelation for many as he pointed out that sugar can be toxic to the cells and speed the process of ageing, therefore one should limit the amount of glucose intake.
Mr Koos van Heerden, a management consultant touched on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) as an ageing enabler. He emphasised the importance of good health facilities and research in dealing with ageing. Furthermore, technology should be used to benefit the aged as they are vulnerable. Prof Vasu Reddy, a Sociology Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, provided perspectives on the meaning of care and its complexities in relation to the materialities of ageing.
South Africa has a long way to go as far as tackling the challenges that relate to providing care giving to its aged and ageing population. Cultural differences need to be taken into consideration when making policy decisions that address the aged.