Given the number of conferences on aging and longevity around the world in 2015, I pick up from my June blog comments that we are at a watershed year on “age-talk”. Maybe because my head is in this dialogue space, for several years now – researching, writing, presenting and conversing; one could say that though, not an expert, I am close to being intellectually oversaturated, running to keep up with my brain in-take and still sounding novel enough to contribute.
Yet with this subject area, it may not simply be a matter of oversaturation but rather discovering a sensibility around perspectives, the how and where and on what levels, aging and longevity is being discussed.
Sorting it out, I consider four broadcast frequencies – academic, commercial, governmental and coffeehouse. Let’s use coffeehouse as a general term to include any social forum (live or on-line), where every day, people share views on age related issues; everything from elder care to pension reform and yes – is it retirement any more.
Finding identity in new longevity patterns
Much more than that, the perspectives on “age-talk” are international, inter-generational and for that matter as potently, inner-self – finding and expressing our own identity in this social phenomena of aging demographics and increasing longevity patterns. While we continue to mess with a language based on past frames of reference, we are currently plot twisting this narrative with futurity in mind.
As conferences go, after digging through the intricate weaving of subject matter – I was impressed by how well the content reads in the upcoming Aging & Society Conference in Washington DC, Nov.5-6. Not only on the obvious academic level, on a wider level the conference presents topical sessions with enough ease of understanding for anyone to see themselves in a meaningful conversation at the coffeehouse level.
From Nigeria and Qatar, China and Iran, to Japan and Canada; the inter-generational perspective is well integrated into the dialogue. Upon further reading on selected topics, I learned, though not too surprisingly, that when you see the “age-talk” played out through multiple cultural, social and personal dimensions around the world, in the North-American context, while we do have differences in respect to socio-economic realities, we do have much more in common with others.
Collectively in all our broadcast frequencies, if we could only get past talking about retirement and see this as a global conversation about the evolution of longevity, then maybe we can see that the projections in the number crunching demographics up to the year 2050 are much easier to fathom and to find resolutions for emerging challenges. And today’s 25 year old, who will then be 60, might have found a better way to express a new identity in the aging process.