I recently read a book about aging and living longer written by Jo Ann Jenkins, the CEO of AARP. I was curious to find out how this book might compare to other books I have read on the subject. One similarity I recognized was the notion that we should re-examine our attitudes and beliefs about getting older. However, a new thought was that we start a national discussion and movement to change the way we view aging in this country from a time of decline to a time when people flourish with new opportunities and challenges.
Based on the research done by AARP and six other aging organizations and her own aging experiences Jenkins concluded that there are three areas where change is most needed to disrupt negative aging behavior: health, wealth, and self. First focus should be on physical and mental fitness, preventing disease and improving well being. People should become active partners in their healthcare instead of dependent patients. Second wealth should mean having financial resilience to not outlive your money. And third, we should change the way we view aging from aging as decline to aging as continuous growth.
Jenkins challenges us to create a new vision for living and aging in America. But in order to do this, we must bring all of society with us. There is a role for government, a role for business and organizations and a personal role for each individual. She asserts that in order to disrupt aging we must create a new vision of living and aging where older people are not burdens; they are contributors. Where we look forward to aging rather than fear it and build a society where all people are valued as contributors regardless of their age.
The book concludes with questions from each individual chapter that gives the reader an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences and thoughts about aging and develop their vision for aging. You are also provided with additional resources and guidance for joining the movement. Some might find the book a bit academic but I found the author’s perspective about a national conversation on aging interesting and worth exploring.