Do you want to grow old? Most people answer yes. A qualified yes, that is: “As long as I’ve got my health.” Long life looks attractive when it’s uncoupled from cognitive and physical decline. It’s a lot cheaper too: illness is expensive.
The WHO's new 2015 World Report on Aging and Health offers a practical roadmap for reframing public health policies to accommodate population aging—“ageing,” that is. As the foundation for its recommendations, it identifies the first priority as “Changing perceptions of health and aging.” Rather than paraphrase, I’ll let a few excerpts speak for themselves.
There’s a lot of disagreement around how to frame the last century’s unprecedented increase in human lifespan. Is it a crisis or an opportunity? Will a “grey tsunami” of incapacitated freeloaders sweep us off our feet, or will we tap into the social capital of millions more healthy, well-educated adults? Are longer lives a blessing or a curse? Experience and ideology shape the responses, of course, but there’s one thing both liberals and libertarians can agree on. What single characteristic of these older Americans will make the most difference? Their health. Living longer looks a lot more attractive when it’s uncoupled from cognitive and physical decline. It’s a lot cheaper too: illness is expensive.
Once I got past the title (“What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?”) and the creepy photographs of faux-old toddlers—the ageist equivalent of blackface? Or “grayface?” as my colleague Andrea Charise proposed?—I read this article in the New York Times magazine with great interest. And mixed feelings.
Posts have been few because I’ve been finishing my book, and the manuscript went out to an agent last Friday—w00t! Off for vacation. And what should greet me on the magazine rack at the airport but this week’s cover story of Time magazine: “Manopause?! Aging, Insecurity and the $2 Billion Testosterone Industry.”
I’ve been part of the Council on Contemporary Families since it was founded 20 years ago to provide solid social science about American families to the press and the public. My post about the latest Census Report on older Americans is up now on their Families As They Really Are blog on the Society Pages site:
Anti-ageism activist, social worker, and guest blogger Alice Fisher is back with a moving and deeply informed piece about why aging-in-place isn’t the panacea being so widely promoted. I wish my mother-in-law, who turns 92 next week, would read and believe it. She and Bill, her husband of 69 years, have been paying for long-term-care insurance for decades in order to be able to remain in their apartment. When I said to Bob, “Your mom would be so much happier in a home after your dad dies,” his response was instant. “She’d be happier in a home now."