From AARP – June 2002 Edition of Bulletin article
“The New Truth About Aging”
AARP is one of America’s top repositories of knowledge of aging. They have combined with National Geographic on a “Second Half of Life Study”. The study reveals insights that goes against conventional thinking of aging.
The study consisted of more than 2,500 Americans, who answered deep questions about their lives. The study reveals that negative “conventional beliefs on aging” are not only not correct, but they are the direct opposite of the truth. “Most people are optimistic about aging and do not see it as a bad thing,” states Debra Whitman, AARP’s chief of public policy. “People in their 70’sand 80’s are uplifting examples of resilience, because they have become more realistic about the changes that happen and are more likely to be happy.
“But research is useful only if it leads to positive change,” says Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP. “I have been on a mission to disrupt – to challenge outdated stereotypes and attitudes and to find new solutions that help people live better as they age.”
Below are changes that AARP hopes to help spark:
- The medical profession needs to evolve its definition of good health
The survey of the 2,500 defines good health as being independent, mobile and of strong mind. You can have heart disease, cancer or diabetes, and still consider yourself in good health if you are being treated and believing in the three goals of being (independent, mobile, of strong mind)
2) … also, its approach to declining health.
One of the toughest choices to make is deciding if an aging parent should undergo a medical procedure or treatment, especially if it will have an effect on the quality of life. Seniors are more concerned about quality of life than on life extension. Their wish needs to be given more respectful and accommodating about end-of-life decisions by the medical profession.
- The housing industry should embrace aging at home
Many new an attractive senior community spaces exist especially in warm sunny locations. However, most seniors want to age at home. Unfortunately, many of those homes were not built for senior citizens. The population grows and more homes become multigenerational, the housing industry should build more “forever homes”.
- We need to do a better job of educating our young adults about retirement finances.
Today’s young adults will have about 40 years of working, and then living another 20 or more years. Many in this age group are not even saving, and furthermore they do not have an accurate view of where their retirement income will come from. Parents, employers, etc., need to educate and urge this age group to save more.
- We need to do a better job of supporting middle-aged adults
Research consistently shows that the toughest years are the late 40’s and early 50’s, the middle ages. Those years are stress packed with career pressures, children are teenagers, parental caregiving and community commitments grow. As a culture we need to do more to support this age group.
- Younger generations should emulate our health focus.
One misconception on aging is that older people have unhealthy fixations on ailments, pills and doctors. The exact opposite is the reality. Seniors model a healthy lifestyle of eating well, exercising and maintaining a positive attitude. They out-score those in their 30’s 40’s and 50’s in the healthy lifestyle arena.