AFS Blog

Preparing for our aging society

Posted on April 30, 2015 | by Kathy Black
Preparing for our aging society

The whole world is aging -- it is an unprecedented global trend. Here and abroad, people are living longer than ever before. The demographic shift poses serious issues for societies across the globe.

Public policy responses to the changed age structure require six high-priority considerations, according to John Rowe, Chair of the MacArthur Foundation and Professor of Public Health at Columbia University. Rowe writes about core societal implications in the Spring 2015 issue of Daedalus, a quarterly journal that was created in 1955 to raise collective learning for the betterment of mankind. Rowe’s input is particularly provocative in light of his renowned reputation as co-author of the publication Successful Aging, which was published in 1997 with colleague Robert Kahn.

Rowe asserts that intergenerational relations require greater import as there is a need for cohesion among the generations. The future requires that we be concerned with both younger and older individuals and families. Changing family structures and roles must also be considered. The family has evolved in contemporary American society and this impacts intrafamilial relations, such as caregiving and financial transfers, productivity, issues of work and retirement, and roles for civic engagement.

Such issues resonate for not only income security throughout life, but also health and wellbeing. Human capital development, such as lifelong education and skills training, must be recast as a lifetime experience that is recognized as beneficial for both individuals and society. Health and healthcare must be adapted to provide for best geriatric practices, comprehensive and team-based care, preventative care, and humane care at the end of life.  The relevance of successful aging of individuals is greatly impacted by the broader environment in which people reside.

Greater attention must be placed on the domains of livability that impact the ability to age well in one’s community. Fortunately, many local, national, and international efforts are underway to enhance aging in community. Now is the time to prepare for OUR aging society!


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