A Watershed Year for Age Talk – 2

No less than twenty prominent speakers gathered at the 2015 Age Boom Academy to discuss issues related to global demographic changes in an aging world, in an attempt as they say at the Columbia Aging Center, “to help international journalists get beyond the myths”. Richard Eisenberg’s article in Forbes magazine June 16 neatly recaps his take after attending this NYC event.

If we’re going to mess around with language in this watershed year of age talk, my preference is to call this time in history a Longevity Boom.

Much like writer William Gibson said about the future, of course the promise of longevity “is not evenly distributed”. Everyone is aging. The operating premise is that current and future generations will experience greater longevity, but how it will actually play out in different parts of the world is another matter.

Observing many media age talk commentaries, I recall that familiar English idiom “a spanner in the works”. Not to get too fussed up, the spanner for me is conflicting terminology. When in many cases “elderly” still pegs those as over 65, and “seniors” can range anywhere from 55 to 105, the lines of sight get blurred. Not that any new politically correct terminology changes everything.

We do need to get to a better place in understanding how we are to re-frame the social and economic experience of a Longevity Boom in an aging world. As Michael Hodin says, “… a conference on aging must explore how longevity shapes the entire life course.”

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