En español | With the help and support of my friends, family and colleagues, and with the inspired contributions of my coworker Boe Workman, I’m counting the days to publication of Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age.
Disrupt Aging is an invitation to choose how you live and age, a guide for anyone who wants to continue exploring possibilities, to celebrate discovery over decline, and to seek out opportunities to live the best life there is to live.
I want people who read it to see what all of us at AARP see, that at a time when individuals should be basking in the glorious gift of longer, healthier lives, we are surrounded by negative images of aging. These images, and the fears of growing older that they inspire, are overdue for an overhaul. In my fantasy, every reader will be moved to become a disruptor of aging, creating a mass movement to shake up outdated beliefs, change the conversation about what it means to get older today, and spark new solutions so more people can choose how they want to live and age.
In tackling this social mission, I’ve grabbed the baton that AARP’s founder, Ethel Percy Andrus, passed to each of us who has had the honor of leading AARP. Ethel was a wonder, and she was one of the original disruptors of aging. She said, way back in 1962: “This is a country where it is wonderful to be young. It must also become a country where it is wonderful to be old.” At that time, she’d already hurled herself into making it happen, with the creation of AARP one of her most important contributions.
We’ve made enormous progress since Ethel’s day, but not enough to bridge the gap between what people would like aging to be like, and what’s holding them back from achieving their vision. They want to be self-sufficient, stay active, build intimacy with family and friends, and just have fun. But they are being constrained by the dominant cultural view of aging as a process of deterioration, dependency, reduced potential, family dispersal and digital incompetence.
AARP took part in a study that concluded “these deep and negative shared understandings make … aging something to be dreaded and fought against, rather than embraced as a process that brings new opportunities and challenges for individuals and society.”
It’s time we put a stop to this dusty old thinking and replace it with more accurate, up-to-the minute ideas. Aging has changed, and it’s important to understand where we are today, where we must go, and how to take advantage of the incredible opportunities we now have to change the way we live our lives for the better.
As CEO of AARP, as a daughter, wife and mother, as a woman rejoicing in my vintage, I want to be judged by who I am, and what I do — not by how old I am.
Most people turning 50 today can expect to live another 30-plus years. That’s more time than they spent in childhood and in adolescence, and for many, it’s more time than they spent working.
Our ability to live longer, healthier, more productive lives is one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. I invite you to join us in this Disrupt Aging journey.
Jo Ann Jenkins is the chief executive officer of AARP. Follow her on Twitter @JoAnn_Jenkins.
Also of Interest
- Why I feel freedom and fearlessness after age 50
- Affordable wellness vacations to take in 2016
- Over 50 and looking for a job? BACK TO WORK 50+ can help.
- Join AARP: Savings, Resources and News for Your Well-Being
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more.