Aging & Longevity, from Media Headlines to Strategy – Part 1

Preface, is an aging society really news anymore?

How much more reporting do we need, with the same front-end demographic statistical data (bar graphs, pie charts and pyramids abound), to know that global population aging is a big story. However, the macro narrative on aging has many diverse facets across multiple interconnected themes. This is not always broken down in depth through those endless, snappy news wire feeds. It is no longer useful for example, to keep re-tweeting calls for a strategy “to combat the looming crisis of aging”.

If all our projections of larger percentages of the over 65’s in a general population is a foreseeable given, we cannot just describe these people as a clump, a problem that needs to be solved, such as those who suggest that as we get there, we are all destined to be future inmates in costly long-term care facilities. As a contrast, media story optics don’t always square with reality, where in countries relatively well-funded social structures exist, photos often depict affluent silvered haired boomer couples hugging their older parent in well-appointed retirement homes.

 

Though an aging society may not really be news anymore – to the point where public commentary has become repetitive with often only surface level research wrapped in catastrophic language – it is a story, a global reality that will be with us for several decades to come. We know aging in a longevity society is not without its challenges, nor (pick an age number), is long life a guarantee.

The global experience of aging is an individual’s life course process, yet considering our collective social and economic cares and concerns, such as appropriate systems for health and home care, housing and income support for older adults, aging and longevity will not necessarily be an even experience around the world.

Aging society, generational passages for decades to come

As we arrive in 2018, it is now with acknowledgement of growing inequalities and diversity – cultural, gender and socioeconomic differences – that we need to look at aging and longevity through multiple lenses.

Ideally, with that in mind, each country (and for that matter, different regions within a large country such as Canada), is in one way, shape, or form still researching and working on strategies, aiming for longer term responses or solutions to building healthy, active and caring communities for people of all ages. In that sense, is it not an inclusive, inter-generational longevity society, (not simply an aging society), that we should aspire to?

Using years like 2030 or 2050 – where population demographic statistics tend to benchmark one more generational passage after another; global and national networks have been talking the innovations and implementations for the future, while political parties, special interest and citizen groups are steadily if not slowly plugging in to the conversation.

Citizens should not just shout for immediate political reaction to current pressing needs without looking at the longer term. Future generations will inherit our decisions. Do your research beyond the headlines – know for a fact, that over the last decade, all sorts of reports, studies and strategies have been commissioned, funded and shared by governments, research think tanks and universities. Still the real opportunity for these same institutions is to do a better job of a unified, well-marketed communication of their work, helping to turn insights into action in the community.

Before Next Post – what do you know of Canada’s existing National Seniors Strategy?

 

 

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