Here's how one acknowledged authority on the future summed it up: "Disrupting aging is about challenging outdated beliefs and stereotypes and sparking new solutions so more of us can choose how we want to live and age." Is it actually possible and can we all share in this brave and bright new world? Let's check it out for ourselves and see where we fit on this time-and--space continuum.
Jo Ann Jenkins is the current CEO of the 37 million member non-profit organization, the A.A.R.P. (Association of American Retired People). She served as Chief of Staff of The Library of Congress before that, one of a series of challenging leadership positions at some of the world's largest non-partisan organizations that she has held over the last quarter of a century, When she speaks, many listen.
Less than a month ago, Michele Parente's front page feature article in the San Diego Union Tribune called the times that we are living in 'The Age of The Aged.' In it, she highlighted four leaders of a movement that is mobilizing millions like never before. Her synopsis was intriguing, to say the least: "It's no coincidence that these advocates are members of the baby boomer generation, a group that continues to rewrite the rules of aging in its youth, middle, and, now, older years." All of the experts interviewed said society's view of old age…that it's solely a depressing period of physical and mental decline…isn't backed up by data, science, and research.
Ms. Jenkins' ground breaking new book 'Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path To Living Your Best Life at Every Age,' which she was inspired to write by her address to over 10,000 AARP members at the National Convention held in San Diego, will be the major focus of this article. We are pleased to share many insights from her experience that we know will hopefully help illuminate and improve yours. It has also inspired our publication to receive an acceptance from a world-renowned physician specializing in geriatrics and internal medicine who will be a regular contributor to The Baja Times in future issues.
"We must change the way we view ourselves. We must reject the common notion that aging equals failing and instead look at aging as a process of continual growth. It’s important for us to develop a sense of purpose and a positive self image. The goal is to gain confidence in navigating life's transitions…and see ourselves as an integral part of society…instead of being isolated from society. We who are over 50 can't do this alone. We have to bring all parts of society with us. The negative stories we tell ourselves and one another about aging lead to negative behaviors that, in turn, create a negative reality of aging. The view of aging as decline can become a self-fulfilling prophecy."
"But the opposite could also be true. If we can change our dialogue about what it means to grow older, we can also change the reality. And change is long overdue. We who are over 50 can't do this alone. We have to bring all parts of society with us. Fortunately the move to disrupt aging has already begun. As the boomers enter their 50's and 60's, they are upending age-based expectations every day, just as they have done in every other phase of their lives. Millennials are also challenging expectations by demanding work-life balance in their jobs and showing us all the benefits of a shared economic model."
"We live in a very exciting time. Most people turning 50 today can expect to live another 30+ years. That's more time than they spent in childhood and adolescence and, for many, it's more time than they will spend working. I believe that we are creating a society where all people can grow older knowing that they will have access to the care, information, and services they need to lead healthy lives with independence and dignity, where they'll have the financial resources and opportunities to match their longer life expectancy, and where they'll be seen as an integral and inspirational asset to the communities in which they live,"
"Maya Angelou once said that at 50, each of us becomes the person we always wanted to be. I believe that's true. I believe age and experience can expand the possibilities if life of every member of society. When we disrupt aging and embrace it as a part of life to look forward to, we can begin to discover the real possibilities for living the life of the person we've always wanted to be. I hope you will join me on this journey."
We are certainly looking forward to reading all of Joe Ann’s meaningful book as well as to reading what our new contributing specialist on aging has to add. Here’s a brief description of his bonafides:
Dr. Howard Sperry, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P, is currently the director of VIP Primary Care at the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) which is Western New York’s only Level I Trauma Hospital. He is also Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Buffalo NY. His first article, which will appear in the next issue of The Baja Times, will focus on non-invasive treatments of knee problems…something that many of us are experiencing.