Over 300 stories on Dutch tory platform ‘Wij & corona’

Over 300 stories on Dutch tory platform ‘Wij & corona’

On the last day of 2020, the 300th story milestone was accomplished and published on Wij & corona (translated into Us & corona). On this Dutch story platform experiences of older people during these trying corona times are shared. With this we give the voice of seniors a stage and support and inspire each other! For example, Willem (71) tells how he tries to stay fit at home and Maarten (77), who is a heart patient and must be extra careful.

Exceptional times
It is a strange, uncertain and frightening time, especially for healthcare organizations and older people. The coronavirus largely freezes public life. The measures to keep distance from each other and to stay at home drastically changes our lives. How do seniors in the Netherlands experience these exceptional times? What do they worry about, what gives them hope and comfort, how do they spend the day?

Very diverse experiences
At the end of March 2020, Leyden Academy and the Get Oud foundation started Wij & corona, to offer older people – who are relatively hard hit by the virus and the corona measures – a platform to share their experiences and thus support and inspire each other. We could not have imagined then that the pandemic would last so long and that more than 300 people would entrust their personal stories to us. We shared the experiences of elderly people from all over the Netherlands and from all walks of life: from a hermit to a bon vivant, from an elderly football supporter to a retired care administrator. We also published stories of care givers, which give an inside on the hard reality of corona.

In search for more stories
Thanks to our collaboration with HelpAge International and ILC Japan, we have also been able to give an impression of how elderly people in other parts of the world experience the corona time. As long as corona continues to dominate our daily lives, we will continue to collect and publish the stories of the elderly. Do you have any tips for people we can interview or do you want to share your story yourself, let us know (koemans@leydenacademy.nl)!

Special thanks to the funds that helped make and make this initiative possible: Jo Visser Fund, Sluyterman van Loo Fund, RCOAK Foundation and Fund 1818.

Silver Starters helps people over 50 on their way to their own company

Silver Starters helps people over 50 on their way to their own company

After a successful first edition in 2019, almost one hundred participants (ranging from 50 to 74 years) started on 14 January 2021 with the free learning program Silver Starters, which was developed by Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing and Aegon. Over the course of twelve weeks, the participants will lay the foundation for converting their idea into their own company through online learning and coaching.

Online kick-off
During the online kick-off, program leaders Dr. Jolanda Lindenberg (Leyden Academy) and Mike Mansfield (Aegon) spoke about the initiators and the realization of Silver Starters. Wendy Woelders discussed the curriculum and what people can expect during the twelve weeks of online learning and coaching. The winner of the 2019 program, 83-year-old Han van Doorn, also spoke: “The advantage of this course is that it is online and that you can do it at your own pace in and your own place. During the course I learned about revenue models and marketing, among other things. This course is one of the best I have done. ” Van Doorn ended his story with the following piece of advice: “Everyone should ask themselves the question: What do I want to become after my retirement!”

Corporate social responsibility
“We have received a surprising number of applications from social entrepreneurship and around the theme of sustainability,” says Lindenberg. “That is why we pay extra attention in the program to setting up a non-profit organization.” Like the idea of ​​Marian Wezenbeek: “I think it would be nice if I could play a role in bringing seniors and starters together, with the aim of creating a nice home for both. In addition to the financial advantage for the elderly who offer housing, it reduces the pressure on the housing shortage for students and starters, and it can be nice for the elderly to have company.”

Diversity of ideas
In addition, there are ideas to recycle waste and make new products from it and to change interiors by using what is already in the house and what comes from thrift stores. Or of a completely different order: a serious game that helps people to understand each other better and that encourages behavioural change. Lindenberg: “It is inspiring to see the diversity of ideas and the enthusiasm of the participants. Just like the participants, the coaches and organizers are looking forward to this edition of Silver Starters.”

Never too old to be an entrepreneur
Many over-50s have the idea of ​​starting their own business one day, but can use a helping hand to actually do so. Silver Starters wants to help them realize their dream. In eight modules, participants learn the mindset and skills needed to start their own business and explore whether an idea is viable. Topics covered include customer needs, revenue models, marketing, prototyping and pitching.

The Silver Starters program was developed by Leyden Academy on Vitality and Aging and Aegon, and is also organized by partners in Italy, Poland and Portugal. More information can be found at silverstarters.org. Do you have questions about Silver Starters? Please contact Ineke Vlek at netherlands@silverstarters.org.

How do Dutch older adults cope with COVID-19?

How do Dutch older adults cope with COVID-19?

Globally and in The Netherlands, mitigation measures during the COVID-19 pandemic have focused on protecting older adults. Earlier disaster studies have shown the importance of including older peoples’ voices to prevent secondary stressors, yet these voices have received little attention during this pandemic. In April 2020, researchers of Leyden Academy explored how Dutch older adults view this crisis and cope with measures to contribute to our understanding of coping of older adults in general and during disaster situations more specifically. We performed a qualitative study using semi-structured telephone interviews with 59 diverse older adults aged 54 to 95, throughout the Netherlands.

Coping strategies
The researchers conclude that older adults in the Netherlands typify this crisis as ungraspable, disrupting their daily and social lives. Despite filling their lives with activities, they experience loss or lack of purpose. They try to follow measures to decrease infection risk and gain control, and use problem- and emotion-focused coping strategies. Emotion-focused strategies used were interpreting their personal vulnerability, self-enhancing comparisons, acceptance, and distraction. In the latter two strategies, the temporary nature of measures was emphasized.

Emphasis on duration
Older adults describe this crisis consistently with earlier findings from disaster studies. They use known coping strategies, but emphasize the duration in relation to their expectation of temporality. This underscores a dynamic, processual approach towards coping that incorporates temporal dimensions such as duration and order. Our findings stress the importance of acknowledging heterogeneity among older adults and adjusting communication about mitigation measures to decrease insecurity and increase resonance. This may make COVID-19 mitigation measures more manageable and age-responsible and allow older adults to resume their lives.

The article ‘Coping of Older Adults in Times of Covid-19: Considerations of Temporality Among Dutch Older Adults’ by Miriam Verhage, Lucia Thielman, Lieke de Kock, and Jolanda Lindenberg was published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences in January 2021.

For more information, please contact Jolanda Lindenberg.

Successful Vitality Club can be set up in any neighborhood

Successful Vitality Club can be set up in any neighborhood

Leiden, The Netherlands, 17 December 2020 – In the Vitality Club, older neighbors exercise together and coach each other. A successful approach: the participants keep coming back and feel physically and mentally healthier. But can you help set up these kinds of clubs in every neighborhood, and let them go once the group is on its own two feet? Research from Leyden Academy on Vitality and Aging shows that this is possible. The researchers publish their findings in the December issue of the scientific journal Preventive Medicine Reports.

Three exercise clubs set up
Previous research found that the Vitality Club is an effective and promising intervention: after all, it is relatively cheap (no professionals involved) and scalable (it should be possible in every neighborhood). The first exercise club that was investigated in small village of Ulft, was founded by the elderly themselves. But can you, as a policymaker or care and welfare professional, help set up a Vitality Club yourself? As an experiment, researchers from Leyden Academy have set up Vitality Clubs in three neighborhoods in the city of Leiden and guided them in the set-up phase: in Leiden Noord (since October 2016), the Professoren- en Burgemeesterswijk (August 2017) and Stevenshof (November 2017). The researchers followed the three clubs, described how they were set up, and which elements work and which do not.

On its own two feet
Three fully independent Vitality Clubs are now running in Leiden’s neighborhoods, where dozens of elderly people coach each other every weekday and exercise together. In this study, too, the participants’ fitness appears to have improved and they indicate that they experience a higher quality of life. The researchers’ investment in guiding these Vitality Clubs in the initial phase was relatively small: 81 to 187 hours for start-up support, and an average of 170 euros for sports equipment. After 114 to 263 days, the group was on its own two feet.

Huge potential
According to David van Bodegom, researcher at Leyden Academy and professor of Vitality at the Leiden University Medical Center, the Vitality Clubs offer a huge potential for society: “Sufficient exercise is important, especially for older people, given the risk of conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes. Yet few people in the Netherlands manage this active lifestyle. Our previous finding that participants of the Vitality Club are able to keep exercising together, was great news. But we, as a society, cannot afford to sit back and wait for these clubs to be set up spontaneously. We believe every neighborhood in the Netherlands should have a Vitality Club. Our research aimed to see if we can lend the clubs a hand – and let them go as soon as they are viable. That turns out to work well.”

About the Vitality Club
The Vitality Club is an exercise club for and by seniors. Participants exercise outside together on weekdays, with training provided by peer coaches: people from their own group who voluntarily act as a trainer. Participants do not have a subscription, they join when they feel like it. There are now 17 Vitality Clubs active in the Netherlands.

The article Self-organizing peer coach groups to increase daily physical activity in community dwelling older adults by Paul van de Vijver, Frank Schalkwijk, Mattijs Numans, Joris Slaets, and David van Bodegom is published in December 2020 in scientific journal Preventive Medicine Reports.

For more information, please contact Niels Bartels, Manager Communications, via email.

Congratulations to the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance

Congratulations to the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance

The International Longevity Centre Global Alliance is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With 16 member countries across all continents, the ILC Global Alliance is a multinational consortium with a mission to help societies across the world to address longevity and population ageing in positive and productive ways.

The ILC Alliance currently includes centres in the United States of America, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, the Dominican Republic, India, South Africa, Argentina, The Netherlands, Israel, Singapore, Czech Republic, Brazil, China, Australia and Canada.

ILC Netherlands (ILC-NL) was established in 2006, and is an independent movement of people who aim to put aging high on the social and political agenda. The goal is to activate people in thinking about active and healthy aging in an early stage by organizing debates, media attention, and sharing experiences and expertise, both nationally and internationally. ILC-NL is committed to the independence state of being of the elderly, requiring tailored conditions, skills and a good living environment. The vitality of the elderly should be promoted while vulnerability and dependency are postponed as long as possible. Also it is important to remain active as an employee, volunteer or entrepreneur without being discriminated because of age.

Find out more about the Global Alliance and ILC-NL.

How do older people in Japan experience the COVID-19 pandemic?

How do older people in Japan experience the COVID-19 pandemic?

This spring, Japan was also confronted by a severe COVID-19 outbreak. After a second peak in the summer, the virus now seems well contained after the implementation of some strict measures. The national character can attribute to this: the Japanese are used to wearing face masks, naturally keep some more distance and faithfully follow advice on working from home and avoiding rush hour. How do older people in Japan experience this time? After translating the stories of Dutch older people earlier this year, the International Longevity Centre (ILC) Japan has now shared a series of personal stories from their own country with our platform Wij & corona. ILC Japan is a member of the ILC Global Alliance, an international federation researching and advocating the vitality and the societal and economical position of older people. In the Netherlands, the ILC network is represented by Leyden Academy.

Toshiya is gaining weight
Today we published the first translated story, from 71-year old Toshiya from the Kanagawa Prefecture. His experiences may sound familiar for Dutch readers: Toshiya is struggling to stay in shape, he misses going downtown and looking around in stores, and has concluded that online drinking with friends can lead to uncomfortable silences… In the coming weeks, we will share a story from Japan on our platform every Wednesday.

Wij & corona is initiated by Leyden Academy and the GetOud foundation to give older people in the Netherlands a voice and a stage to share their experiences during the COVID-19 crisis. We have so far published over 230 personal stories. Do you have a story to share, please send us an email.

Silver Starters reaches final Smart Ageing Prize

Silver Starters reaches final Smart Ageing Prize

Today, it was announced the Silver Starters, an initiative of Leyden Academy and Aegon supported by EIT Health, is one of the five ideas in the final of the 2020 Smart Ageing Prize. The ideas were selected by an expert panel of judges from the original 15 semi-finalists, representing a wide and innovative range of solutions that aim to empower older adults to engage in entrepreneurship. The final five were identified as having the most potential to support older adults looking to re-engage with the world of work, particularly during the current uncertain economy.

Silver Starters
Silver Starters (previously Start-up Plus) is an online training programme for older aspiring entrepreneurs, focused on teaching start-up principles. We developed the programme together with older adults so that the content is specifically tailored to their needs. Adaptive learning has been incorporated into the programme both online and offline to ensure a personalised training experience. After a successful pilot edition in late 2019, we are currently inviting older adults to sign up for the second edition of Silver Starters planned to take place in January 2021. Please watch our ‘pitch video’ here, starring Jolanda Lindenberg of Leyden Academy and entrepreneur Han van Doorn (84), participant of the first edition.

About the Smart Ageing Prize
The Smart Ageing Prize is organised by Nesta Challenges and AAL, a European funding programme that aims to create better quality of life for older people and to strengthen industrial opportunities in the field of healthy ageing technology and innovation.

And the finalists are…
The other four game-changing ideas joining Silver Starters in the Smart Ageing Prize final, are:

  • Diaspo: live, interactive and intimate cooking classes
  • Grandnanny: a new type of childcare service that connects communities
  • Parlangi: connecting people who want to learn a language with mentors
  • The Care Hub: providing work for older adults in the care space

The winner will be announced in early November, via a virtual awards ceremony during the European Online Week of Active & Healthy Ageing 2020. Fingers crossed!

David van Bodegom appointed Professor of Vitality in an ageing population

David van Bodegom appointed Professor of Vitality in an ageing population

Leiden, The Netherlands, 2 September 2020 – As of 1 September 2020, David van Bodegom MA MD PhD is appointed Professor by Special Appointment of ‘Vitality in an ageing population’ at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), department of Public Health and Primary Care (PHEG). This new chair is established on behalf of knowledge institute Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing.

David van Bodegom (1978) is trained as a physician and historian, and works as a senior researcher at Leyden Academy since 2009 where he leads the activities in the focus area Ageing with vitality. He is also a lecturer at the department of PHEG, and supervises several PhD students. Van Bodegom obtained his PhD at Leiden University in 2011, based on a large cohort study on the effects of the environment on the ageing process in rural Ghana. He discovered that the Ghanese elderly live in remarkably good health – without diabetes and cardiovascular disease – as a result of an environment that encourages healthy habits such as daily exercise, a moderate diet, a good night’s sleep, and little stress. He decided to make it his mission to transfer these findings from Ghana to our modern environment. Van Bodegom is convinced that the public environment rather than the consultation room holds the key to healthy ageing.

Potential health gains
Van Bodegom on his appointment: “It is truly a privilege to be able to contribute from this position to helping people live longer lives in a healthier and more pleasant way. There is so much to be gained.” He is looking forward to a closer collaboration with fellow scientists from various disciplines in Leiden and the LUMC Campus The Hague. He will also lecture on ageing with vitality to young doctors and in other academic courses.

The potential of peer coaching
As a Professor by Special Appointment, Van Bodegom will focus his research on two topics related to ageing with vitality. First of all, the potential of ‘peer coaching’. Together with his colleagues at the Leyden Academy, Van Bodegom founded the Vitality Clubs, sports clubs of older neighbors exercising together. The participants coach each other; no professionals are involved. Research shows these clubs are successful: people join to improve their physical fitness, but the social aspect is just as important. Van Bodegom will study if the model of peer coaching can also be applied to other areas, for instance in reversing early stage Type 2 diabetes.

Impact of the environment
The second topic Van Bodegom will focus on in the coming years, is the impact of the environment on healthy behavior. Many of our daily health decisions are influenced by our environment. At home, at work, on the road, we are constantly seduced to eat too much and to be inactive. Instead of resisting these seductions by our will power, we can aim to remove these triggers from our environment and introduce healthy seductions instead. Van Bodegom will study how our environment can help us live longer, healthier lives.

Making knowledge accessible
In addition to doing research and providing education, the Leyden Academy values the dissemination of knowledge and insights to a broader audience. This means a lot of time and energy is invested in making the latest insights on vitality publicly available through newspapers, radio, television, books, courses, and public lectures.

If you have any questions, please contact Niels Bartels by phone: +31 (0)6 34614817 or by email.

Intergenerational solidarity during COVID-19: It takes two to tango

Intergenerational solidarity during COVID-19: It takes two to tango

In April 2020, Leyden Academy researchers Miriam Verhage, Lucia Thielman, Lieke de Kock, and Jolanda Lindenberg interviewed 59 Dutch seniors about their experiences during the COVID-19 crisis and their views on the portrayal of senior adults in the national media. What they found out was that not only were elders’ experiences diverse, but that many expressed a desire and ability to contribute to society. In the words of the authors: “Rather than solely focussing on the possible vulnerability of older adults, we should highlight their strength and willingness to contribute to society and acknowledge that solidarity is always a mutual endeavour.”

In the latest edition of the ‘The Age of COVID-19’ series, published simultaneously by The Association for Anthropology and Gerontology, and the Life Course (AAGE) and Somatosphere, the Leyden Academy researchers discuss older people’s views of the pandemic, intergenerational solidarity and self-perceptions of vulnerability among seniors in the Netherlands. You can read the article ‘It takes two to tango’ here.

Panel discussion on senior entrepreneurship and the multi-generational workplace

Panel discussion on senior entrepreneurship and the multi-generational workplace

This year, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2020, the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community, will be held entirely online.

On Wednesday 12 August 2020 from 14:00–15:00 CEST, the WSIS Forum will host a session titled ‘ICTs and Older Persons: Value of the Older Workforce: The Emergence of Senior Entrepreneurship and the Multi-Generational Workplace’. For the first time in history, today’s workplaces are now a meeting place for up to four generations. These multi-generational teams are proving more productive than single-generation teams. Even so, older workers continue to face age discrimination in the workplace, and the conventional 19th century concept and mindset of retirement, remains largely unchanged. Do people really want to retire? How differently are they looking at their lives than their predecessors? And is entrepreneurship an option for today’s retirees?

In the online session, 83-year Han van Doorn will introduce his start-up Are You Okay Today? and share his experiences as a participant in the Start-up Plus program initiated in 2019 by Leyden Academy and Aegon and supported by EIT Health. The other members of the panel discussion are Mike Mansfield (Aegon), Mary J. Cronin (Carroll School of Management, Boston College), and Jeff Schwartz (Deloitte Consulting LLP).

For more information and to register (free of charge), please visit: https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2020/Agenda/Session/291