Looking for some inspiration on how to support your parents and elder relatives as they age?
Take a look at these TED talks given by passionate experts in various fields, who provide insights ranging from lifestyle and behavioural changes that could ward off cognitive decline to tips on how to have difficult later life conversations.
Whether you’re just starting to navigate this new dynamic or have been caring for your parents for a while, these talks offer valuable lessons that could help you prepare ahead and provide the best possible care for your parents (and yourself). You might want to share them with your parents too!
1. How to Live to Be 100 – Dan Buettner
In his TED talk, “How to Live to be 100,” Dan Buettner discusses the concept of “Blue Zones,” regions of the world where people live the longest and healthiest lives. He explains that these areas have certain commonalities, such as a strong sense of community, regular physical activity, and a plant-based diet. Additionally, he notes that these cultures also have a strong sense of purpose and social engagement, which can contribute to overall well-being and longevity.
2. The Secret to Living Longer May Be Your Social Life – Susan Pinker
In her TED talk, ‘The Secret to Living Longer May Be Your Social Life’, psychologist Susan Pinker reveals how in-person social interactions are not only necessary for human happiness but also could be a key to health and longevity. Providing the island of Sardinia as an example, she shows how individuals with strong social connections tend to live longer, healthier lives than those who are socially isolated, and touches on several studies that have found a link between social connections and improved health outcomes, including a reduced risk of heart disease, a lower risk of developing dementia, and a longer lifespan.
3. How Societies Can Grow Old Better – Jared Diamond
In his TED talk “How societies can grow old better,” author and civilization scholar Jared Diamond discusses the challenges and opportunities that come with an ageing population. He examines how different societies treat their elders, and argues for a change in attitude towards older people and for finding ways to support and engage them. He urges us to value and respect older people, and to plan for ageing, instead of waiting until the last minute to address the challenges that come with it.
4. The Brain-Changing Benefits of Exercise – Wendy Suzuki
In her TED Talk “The Brain-Changing Benefits of Exercise,” neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki explains how exercise is not only good for our physical health, but is also essential for our mental and cognitive health. She examines the chemical changes that exercise produces in the brain and reveals the how physical activity can help protect ageing brains against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
5. Sleep is Your Superpower – Matt Walker
In his TED Talk “Sleep is Your Superpower,” neuroscientist Matt Walker discusses the importance of sleep for overall health and well-being, including maintaining a healthy immune system, maintaining cognitive function, and regulating mood. He explains how lack of sleep is linked to numerous chronic health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer, and can lead to problems with memory and learning. He also provides tips on better sleep hygiene and how we can improve the quality of our sleep. Matt has a few TED Talks that are worth checking out, including this one on the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Talk About Your Death While You’re Still Healthy – Michelle Knox
In her TED Talk “Talk About Your Death While You’re Still Healthy,” Michelle Knox encourages us all to have open and honest conversations about death and end-of-life planning while we are still healthy. She argues that by having these conversations, people can make informed decisions about their care and ensure that their end-of-life wishes are respected. She also stresses the importance of involving loved ones in these conversations and creating a plan that reflects the individual’s values and priorities.
7. The Power of Vulnerability – Brené Brown
In her famous TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability,” Brené Brown discusses the importance of vulnerability in human connections and relationships – the ability to be open, honest, and to show one’s true self without fear of judgment or rejection. Brown shares her research on vulnerability, shame, and empathy, and explains that vulnerability is the key to true connection and empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
8. How My Dad’s Dementia Changed My Idea of Death (and Life) – Beth Malone
In this moving TED Talk “How my dad’s dementia changed my idea of death (and life),” social entrepreneur Beth Malone discusses her experience of caring for her father who has dementia and how it has changed her perspective on life and death. She explains how caring for her father has been a difficult but also transformative experience – teaching her to appreciate the small moments, to be more patient and empathetic, and to cherish time with loved ones. She shows us how accepting the reality of death and can help us to appreciate the beauty of life and what we have, no matter how difficult the journey may be.
9. 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation – Celeste Headlee
In her brilliant TED Talk, “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation,” Celeste Headlee argues that we are becoming increasingly bad at having real conversations and that this is having a negative impact on our relationships. As well as providing some great guidelines and practical tips for better conversations, Headlee encourages us to be more empathetic and to remember that we are all just trying to be heard and understood.
10. How Compassion Could Save Your Strained Relationships – Betty Hart
In this TED Talk, “How Compassion Could Save Your Strained Relationships,” Betty Hart delves into the science behind compassion and how it can be cultivated to improve communication and resolve conflicts. As our parents age and become more dependent on us, it is common for conflicts to arise. Hart shows us that by practicing compassion and understanding the perspective and emotions of our parents, we can minimise conflict and strengthen our bond with them. This talk encourages us to see our aging parents not just as a burden but as individuals with their own feelings and needs, and to approach our relationship with them with empathy and kindness.