A Manifesto on Aging
What is a Manifesto on Aging? In this instance, it’s my mission to create awareness and acceptance aging as a part of living. My guiding principle to enhance the quality of life and peace of mind as we age. By committing to my goals publicly it’s a way to measure future success. Lastly, it’s an opportunity to share why my past predictions are proof I am a thought leader about the future.
First and foremost I believe each of us can affect the perception of aging. Second, by accepting this responsibility we have the opportunity to positively influence each generation. By acknowledging there are barriers to eliminating ageism and age discrimination we also accept the responsibility for our actions.
I want to influence aging in American by achieving these four goals.
- By beginning the conversation of aging in childhood as part of understanding the value of a legacy and family.
- To eliminate stereotypes by identifying opportunities for inclusion. As well as recognizing the power of standing up to ageism in society.
- Furthermore instituting lifelong learning as a way to enhance physical and behavioral health outcomes.
- Finally, opening the space for discussion on the quality of life and the acceptance of death as a part of living.
I know these goals deserve attention as America moves closer to seven generations living at the same time. In 1991 just as the oldest Boomers were entering middle age I began discussing aging parents. As well as issues about aging, end of life, and legacy. Influenced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross my parents and I discussed the topic over our kitchen table. Now decades later families are beginning to embrace advance healthcare directives, the Five Wishes, and discuss compassionate care.
Predicting Future Trends
Almost a decade ago in 2008 while working at a senior transportation program I recognized the importance of adopting a transportation planning for older adults. While volunteer driver programs were the backbone of services I projected the programs were unsustainable. The facts in 2017 depict few volunteer drivers, flat funding for programs, and an increase in use.
Launching Older Adult Programs
Early in 2012, the non-profit We Get Around began providing aging drivers an alternative to giving up the keys. By educating them on how to use public transit.
Later in 2012, I took my first Lyft ride in San Francisco. During the short ride, I saw the future of senior transportation. Ridesharing was the lynchpin to keep older adults connected to their community. Excitedly I shared the new with my transportation colleagues. In 2016 the digital divide was connected. Through online platforms, seniors now access ridesharing with or without smartphones.
Then in 2013, the Brain Fit Now! pilot begin. The pilot began testing risk reduction for Alzheimer’s Disease through The Oasis Institute. The four-week program provided education on lifestyle habits to create awareness and develop a brain healthy lifestyle. In 2015 the Administration for Community Living, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched What is Brain Health? The initiative educates adults about how to help keep the body and brain healthy.
Also, the same year Come Back Cupid was launched. This program tackles the issue of sexual health and online scam awareness among adults age 65 and over. In 2013 the Center for Disease control reported individuals age 55 and older account for 26% of all Americans living with diagnosed or undiagnosed HIV. In addition, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have doubled for people between age 50 – 70 in the past decade.
Next in 2015 Encore 101HQ launched. Addressing the needs of individuals unemployed and age 50 and over. By focusing on developing small businesses and consulting services the program develops technology skills and a digital footprint.
Finally, in 2016 the senior transportation book I started in 2008 was published. Freewheeling After Sixty: Design Your Personalized Transportation System began a movement to eliminate the keys conversation.
Currently, I am the Director of Program Innovation at Advocates For Aging. My claim to fame? The first gerontologist to speak at South by Southwest. Another accomplishment? Freewheeling After Sixty the first book to make it easier for older adults to give up driving. Lastly, my most recent project online dating for age 65+ with Come Back Cupid. After all, love is ageless.