AARP
Globally, we are engaging all sectors in all regions to elevate discussion on the interconnected nature of aging and foster a new approach. We aim to change the conversation and transform the experience of aging.

Think about this — nearly two out of every three people who have ever lived to age 65 are alive today! Consider that many in the medical science community believe the first human who will live 150 years is alive today. There is a demographic revolution occurring and we are all pioneers on how we evolve our societies to account for this new reality.

Until recently viewed as a phenomenon primarily affecting developed nations, population aging is now recognized as a global issue affecting all nations and all peoples, offering both serious challenges and rewarding opportunities. I believe we can now say without credible contradiction that global population aging has become a transformative issue that is underway and advancing rapidly.

By the year 2030, globally, there will be more adults age 60 and over than children under 10 for the first time in history. At mid-century, 22 out of every 100 people on earth will be age 65 and over. But already today, changing demographics are a key determinant in major geopolitical decisions, seen in the European refugee crisis and China’s social policy, for example. And we have seen very positive steps. The inclusion of references to age and older persons in the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda adopted by the United Nations demonstrates increased awareness and promising progress.

The issues are too complex and too important for any one sector — government, for example — to address the challenges and seize the opportunities. Every sector needs to be better functioning and better coordinated, each fulfilling specific functions and making unique contributions.

For its part, AARP, a social change organization with a membership of nearly 38 million people age 50 and over, is evolving to enhance the lives of older people in ways that benefit society. We are disrupting aging, challenging outdated beliefs and sparking new solutions. Globally, we are engaging all sectors in all regions to elevate discussion on the interconnected nature of aging and foster a new approach. We aim to change the conversation and transform the experience of aging.

In this edition of The Journal, our distinguished contributors examine how the trend is developing and what needs to be done to keep it moving in the right direction. How, for example, will our cities be transformed? What roles will technology play? What will the world’s workforce look like?

AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins gets our discussion started with an excerpt from her new book, Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, in which she states that to think of population aging as a crisis is “absolutely and fundamentally wrong.” She calls for getting rid of outdated beliefs and stereotypes about aging and offers a new framework for measuring success in the form of “Four Freedoms of Aging:” to Choose, to Earn, to Learn, and to Pursue.

In the Big Picture, we hear from global thought leaders from different sectors on fresh approaches for the path ahead.

  • Paul Irving, Chairman of the Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging, suggests that the technology-savvy millennial generation has a golden opportunity to shape the future of aging in a positive way.
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, suggests that treatment of older women could be an indicator of the success of the recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.
  • Laurence Rossignol, France’s Minister of State for Family, Childhood, Elderly People and Adult Care addresses how France is working to extend autonomy of older people and engaging policy makers and all stakeholders to “build a society adapted to aging.”
  • Tom Wright, CBE,‎ Group CEO for Age UK, discusses the role of the nonprofit sector in addressing issues of population aging, such as giving an effective voice to people and working collaboratively to provide information and support, spur innovation, and address product and service gaps.

The Financial Resilience section highlights opportunities for staying engaged in later years, critical for healthy aging and beneficial for society.

In an exclusive interview with AARP International, Premier Mao Chi-kuo of Taiwan outlines how his government has engaged various stakeholders to develop a White Paper on Aging Society, aimed at ensuring that all people age in supportive environments. Another article is by Henry Kim, COO of Korea’s Senior Partners Inc., who relates the unique challenges of increasing labor force participation among Korean baby boomers in a nation where the retirement age has been 55 and most workers have been “forced out” of their jobs by age 52.

On Health Security, we feature how information exchange and a focus on care can address challenges associated with dementia.

We are honored to have H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden answer questions about the nonprofit foundation she founded to improve the quality of life for persons affected by dementia and their families. Further on this topic, AARP’s Sarah Lock describes the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), launched by AARP in 2015. The GCBH brings together leading global experts to share research and provide consumer-friendly information on brain health, showing what works, and what doesn’t. This section also looks at lesser-known consequences of ageism, and at how mobile technology can facilitate greater social interaction and combat isolation.

As age-friendly communities further emerge as a universal model for developing great places for people of all ages, our Communities section examines methods and tools for measuring age-friendliness and also features case studies on low-to-middle income areas.

Jana Lynott, of AARP’s Public Policy Institute, provides an overview of the AARP Livability Index, a groundbreaking tool that assesses every neighborhood in the United States on the services and amenities that affect people’s lives. We feature articles from the WHO on their new publication to help cities measure their age-friendliness and from Manchester on the United Kingdom’s evaluation framework for communities. Anne Sophie Parent of Age Platform reports on European Union efforts to make age-friendly environments a reality.

We also feature the results of a pilot test of the WHO evaluation guidelines as applied to two “slums” in Nairobi, Kenya and present a case study of La Plata, the capital city of Buenos Aires Province. And we look at the unique challenges and opportunities of introducing age-friendly principles and polices in rural areas using the state of Maine as an example.

In this edition, we introduce a new section, the Business of Aging, which addresses the increased focus of the private sector on aging issues and the potential that this offers.

Warby Parker co-CEO Neil Blumenthal reports on how his company’s efforts to provide eyeglasses in the developing world can increase productivity and self-sufficiency and states that “businesses will become increasingly mission-driven as the pace of change speeds up.”

Other companies are meeting the new demands. Aegon, a Dutch-based financial services company, is addressing the increasing need for individuals and families to play a greater role in saving and preparing for a long retirement. Cigna Korea has developed a membership program that has an emerging new direct-to-consumer channel offering such benefits as discount services for health checkups and free samples from top market players to its customers.

Civil society is also playing its part. National Seniors Australia (NSA), a consumer lobby for older Australians, describes how NSA is collaborating with the superannuation industry, healthcare providers, and the retail sector in order to better meet the needs of older people.

AARP is proud to report on our continuing commitment to spur business engagement and investment in innovation. Scott Frisch, our Chief Operating Officer, announces the first-of-its-kind AARP Innovation Fund which is devoting $40 million over three years to provide start-up capital to companies around the world that develop products and services that improve the lives of people age 50 and over and their families.

Speaking of family, we are privileged to feature Kirk Douglas in our Spotlight section. As he celebrates his 99 birthday, Mr. Douglas reflects on his parents, his 62 year marriage, and recent travel to celebrate a grandson. Kirk and Anne Douglas have funded “Harry’s Haven,” named after his father, an Alzheimer's unit at the Motion Picture & Television Fund's retirement home.

We close this edition of The Journal focused on the untapped potential offered by population aging and on the imperative to adapt.

David Rothkopf, the CEO and Editor of the FP Group, discusses how the growth of our cadre of most experienced workers represents a “massive’’ opportunity, rather than a threat to our society. Older workers will bring their experience to the global marketplace in ways that previously were impossible.

In her column, Debra Whitman, AARP’s Executive Vice President and Chief Public Policy Officer, looks at the need to recast the issue of aging and implores world leaders to acknowledge and capitalize on the successes of longevity. She notes, “Realizing the promise of aging is about no less than reweaving the fabric of society.”

As you’ll see in The Journal, there are ongoing efforts to embrace the new realities resulting from demographic change. There is more to do and we cannot miss this opportunity.

 
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