Ageing employees: why salad is so overrated?

Healthy eating is not enough for sustainable work

Eating a well-balanced diet is an important part of staying healthy as you age. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, stay energized, and get the nutrients you need. It also lowers your risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as heart diseases, osteoporosis and diabetes.

Older people should also keep physically active to help maintain muscle strength and an appropriate weight. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can help older people keep more active, manage their health problems better and live a more active life.

The world’s population is getting older, a phenomenon that has important implications for the future of work. Persons aged 55 years and over are expected to outnumber all children aged 0 to 14 years by 2035 and the entire child and youth population aged 0 to 24 years by 2080. As a direct consequence of population ageing, the number of older workers aged 55 to 64 years is increasing and is set to equal one quarter of the global labour force by 2030 (International Labour Organization, June 2020).

Just like our body, our mind needs to be nurtured and fed to exist in its best form: just like dry skin, we need to moisturize it to keep it nourished and healthy. So, our mind needs a daily workout too, especially when you consider that whether you work in a traditional or progressive environment, on your own or in a sea of cubicles, work life is full of challenges.

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Gamification and serious games have become instrumental for acquiring new skills at the workplace, they can help people change the rules to discover new ways to overcome those challenges.

In My Mind is the Cognitive Games app, developed within the sustAGE project, aiming at training users’ cognitive skills. It is an important element to compensate cognitive deficits in executive functions in middle-aged employees performing cognitively unchallenging work and it is functionally integrated with the whole sustAGE system, so that each game can be adapted to each single player’s skill and needs.

Each of the games contained in the app is related to specific cognitive functions that will be trained during gameplay. For example, you can play Get your Bearings to try to improve: Processing speed, Active scan search, Detection/recognition of targets in the presence of noise, Response inhibition.

Objective of the game: The game requires participants to determine the orientation of a central item that can appear at different areas of the screen and may or may not be accompanied by flankers whose orientation could be congruent or incongruent with the orientation of the central target. This game is inspired to Eriksen Flanked task

Furthermore, each game can be personalised setting several parameters such as: number of different targets, target position, number of distractors…This gives the possibility to generate a great number of combinations each corresponding to a different difficulty level.

Customization is used to adapt all the games to players’ cognitive skills, which might vary over time, so that every user can always play each game with appropriate characteristics.

Every worker can play two different game modes, namely “challenge” and “arcade”, trying to better integrate fun and training elements.

The challenge mode can be played both in the breaks during work (linked to the specific recommendations triggered by the sustAGE system according to performance in different work tasks) and also at home as it is the default game mode for the prescribed training, consisting of 20/30 minutes of play 3 days a week. This can be linked to general recommendations about cognitive training as well as to specific recommendations (e.g., playing certain games for a longer time) due to a poor performance in a specific game or a work task linked to a specific cognitive process.

The arcade mode is meant to be played in the so-called endless way, ideally at home or in spare time. In the arcade mode, all games are available and can be played for a maximum of 10 minutes a day while the difficulty can change during the match, as in any endless game, becoming gradually more complex.

So remember: never stop playing, at work or in your life, because playing keeps you young!