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Redefining how we all see our own life’s horizons in the era of Longevity

#whatnext2023 Association of Retirement Communities ARCO

Kay Allen OBE

Campaign Director

On the 5th July I was given the opportunity to share the Age Irrelevance campaign with the delegates at the ARCO conference

Many in the audience knew Baroness Sally Greengross – She was a passionate patron of ARCO – Their tribute last year called her a colossus in her campaigning – saying she inspired change and sparked dialogue.

She would have delighted with the conference and the launch of the Older People’s Housing Task Force.


Sally was always looking to the future - always instinctively knew what needed to change.

I met Sally back in the 1980’s when I was at B&Q – we worked on the millennium papers in 1999 and created B&Q’s approach to employing people who brought with them a life time’s experience and skill. We proved beyond any doubt that you did not need to create age barriers and silos to have a multi-generational team dynamic that was high performing.

Sally was always a trailblazer and in her final year she talked to me of her next big idea and she entrusted me and her family to deliver what she wanted to call ……Age irrelevance.

Sally was clear – Age Irrelevance is not about taking age out of the equation, it is about putting consideration of all ages into everything.

She wanted to create a cascade of actions that would shape a New Narrative – not about ageism but age inclusion

Redefining how we all see our own life’s horizons in the era of longevity

In recent decades, advancements in healthcare, improved living conditions, and technological innovations have paved the way for a remarkable phenomenon—the 100-year life.

The prospect of living well beyond the traditional retirement age is transforming the way we view our life’s path, challenging societal norms, and reshaping our understanding of what it means to live longer better lives.

And yet … Sally knew that today’s reality was not transforming fast enough to meet the rapidly approaching changes that the 100 year life and 4 generational families will bring.

She said to me, “we need less debate and more action”.

  • Imagine that over 30 years ago in B&Q - we proved the power of age inclusion in work.

  • But look at a recent report by Legal & General that highlighted job seekers over the age of 50 today – that more than 52% of respondents believe their age has made employers less likely to hire them.

  • And backdrop this against the Governments view that we all will have to work longer to fund our longer lives.

The concept of the 100-year life necessitates a re-evaluation of the traditional life stages. Education, work, and retirement are no longer linear progressions but rather fluid phases that intertwine and overlap.

Sally wanted to see new solutions not more explanation of the issues. Age inclusion, not age discrimination. Her Age Irrelevance campaign aims to collaborate with the pioneers and change makers to accelerate the change that is needed.

Sally, as patron of ARCO, knew how vital housing infrastructure and community planning are to create accessible homes for life.

Having visited Inspired villages and spent the whole day with CEO Jamie Bunce, his vision with adaptable spaces, universal design principles, smart technology are proof that we can create places that effortlessly adjust to varying life requirements, empowering individuals, combatting loneliness, and - what I loved the most – how he is enabling intergenerational connection.

Sally knew that longevity and sustainable living went hand in hand.

Innovative housing models benefiting from the richness of diverse perspectives.

The impact of longevity on housing, education, work and saving for the future is profound. Its not a modernisation and a few changes of approach.

It is a necessity to reimagine how we all live our lives..

Housing is the catalyst for healthy, vibrant and fulfilling lives, regardless of age.

Sally wanted to bring the challenge of age irrelevance to the future concept of the home. She knew the power of intergenerational connections. She wanted to challenge people to plan for their longer better lives. To have a home for life.

Using the unique convening power of the Greengross legacy, her foundation will build demand for change by inspiring and equipping others to intrinsically value age irrelevance.

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