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Huge thanks to everyone who helped make our ERA pre-conference in July 2022 so enjoyable – as described in this Ageing Issues blogpost by Wendy Twist.  As well as arranging a few events over the coming months, we’re already working on next year’s ERA pre-conference. It will be both online and in person at the University of East Anglia in Norwich on 4 July 2023. The main BSG conference is on 5-7 July 2023.  More news (and a look back at previous ERA pre-conferences) soon.

First up in our list of events is an online ‘Gerontology and Tonic’ at 4pm on November 17 on neurodiversity and dementia with neurodiversity specialist and doctoral researcher Lynsey Stewart. Tickets and further information can be accessed via this Eventbrite link.  We understand that Lynsey is a dog lover – always a bonus hearing about people’s dogs when we chat at the end of the G&Ts. Please also keep your eyes open for news about our annual online Christmas G&T in December.

For new researchers who haven’t attended Gerontology & Tonics (G&Ts) before, they are an online forum where you can meet up informally with other BSG ERA members. We support each other with short presentations on gerontological topics, designed to be accessible to ‘accidental gerontologists’. Everybody is welcome and you don’t need to bring any previous knowledge.  Each presentation is followed by an informal hang-out where we can share a virtual drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) together. We held five G&Ts during 2021-2022 and they attracted people from India, the USA (Virginia), CANADA (Prince Edward Island), Turkey, Sweden, Ireland and the UK.

As the G&Ts aren’t recorded, here a few observations from our previous G&Ts. Summaries of the  first two on the lifecourse and ageism are in this Ageing Issues Blogpost.  Sam Toolan has written about health inequalities in this Ageing Issues blogpost.  Below are brief notes on two others in 2022.

The theme of the 7 April G&T was active ageing with Dr Cassie Phoenix, associate professor in physical activity and health at Durham University. She’s an ‘accidental gerontologist’ herself. She loves qualitative research, and is committed to challenging stereotypes around ageing and exercise. She discussed the challenge of measuring ‘activity’ and the need to broaden ideas about exercise as a medicine to include exercise as pleasure.

Perhaps the best moment was when one of us asked her which academic paper she had enjoyed writing most. She said she was proud of her journal article on coasts as therapeutic landscapes in which she finds strong links between exercise and people’s emotional response to the place where it happens.

This triggered an absorbing group chat about challenging the moral imperatives around exercise, which can be very off-putting. The need to pay attention to different cultural understandings of exercise was also discussed. We then thought about how health inequalities tie into inequalities in access to exercise, the ways technology might be used to encourage people to keep active, and how rehabilitation can be seen as exercise. We left the G&T full of passion about valuing all kinds of exercise at all ages.

The theme of the 9 June G&T was money, pensions and ageing with Dr Hayley James, a post-doctoral researcher at University College Dublin. Hayley’s research interests concern anthropological and sociological perspectives on money, finance and value, and how they intersect with ageing and the lifecourse. She currently works on a project examining pension systems in six European countries.

Hayley discussed what motivates people to save for a private pension. She pointed out that having a good income doesn’t correlate with saving for a pension. We talked about how different attitudes towards pensions, and the multiple ways in which they are arranged, are not ‘fixed’.  Instead, individuals’ priorities change as they progress through the decades. At the same time political priorities are constantly in flux. There is a constant political debate about who should take responsibility for the funding of old age – the individual or the state.  Participants wondered how to make pension systems fit for purpose. One potential option was discussed – the possibility of ‘sidecar’ savings which people can use to save for a pension and dip into in times of crisis.

Pensions often sound boring, but our discussion led us to thinking about our own and our friends’ and families’ experiences, and to link these to bigger scales. We concluded that pensions are a great topic to get people talking, as everyone has something to say about their pension (or lack of it). And, of course, we discussed dogs. As a bonus Hayley’s cocktail/mocktail was called The Greyhound.

More news about future G&Ts soon – and if there are any topics you would like to see covered or theories clarified in a G&T please do get in touch. You can do so through Twitter or by emailing era (at) bsg.org.uk.