report stating that U.S. life expectancy had declined for the first time since 1993.
But the conference’s theme prevailed: The way we all think about longevity needs to broaden if businesses and consumers are to have meaningful success in the future.
The high-powered gathering featured world-renowned experts ranging from Next Avenue 2016 Influencers in Aging David Lindeman (director of the Center for Technology and Aging) and Paul Irving
(chairman of the Milken Institute for the Future of Aging) to
biochemist J. Craig Venter (co-founder and CEO of Human Longevity and
one of the first to sequence the human genome).
Panelists offered their
insights and challenges to the roughly 200 attendees on key aspects of
aging — from the latest disruptive technologies to how other nations are
approaching the needs of their elder communities.
“We need to stay human — and in a technology society, that can be
hard,” said Lindeman. Then, challenging the audience, he added: “We need
the brightest minds to start tackling the biggest issues we have around
Highlights from the conference:
The Need to Redefine Longevity
Thomas Goetz, co-founder and CEO of Iodine — a health technology
company whose mission is to turn medical research data into tools for
ordinary people to make better decisions about their health — noted that
longevity and health care are typically seen as the same thing. But,
Goetz, said, they’re not. “Longevity is so much more,” noted Goetz.
He urged the audience to look at the bigger picture and recognize
that personal longevity is impacted by our financial situation, social
environment and institutional policies.
Many panelists echoed this viewpoint. They were particularly cheered by Wednesday’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement that will affect the nation’s 30 million older Americans suffering from hearing loss.
Effective immediately, the FDA said it no longer requires adults to
receive a medical evaluation or sign a waiver before buying most hearing
aids. This news may help prove Goetz’s point that aging solutions are
not purely medical in nature.
The announcement was heralded among conference participants as the type of new thinking needed around the definition of “aging products,” as well as a prime example of how institutional polices need to adapt to longevity realities.
What Leads to Financial Problems of Older People
As one session’s panelists noted that wealthy Americans live longer,
on average, than those who are economically strained, there was
considerable discussion of the factors that can lead to financial problems for older people.
One consensus view: The traditional retirement age of 65 is a “false
age” that creates financial stress.
As more of us live into our 80s and
90s, the economics of a two- or three-decade retirement are simply not
feasible anymore for most people.
Workers need to plan and save for retirement at earlier ages, the
experts agreed. But the speakers also felt employers must play a more
significant role in the new reality of aging. Flexible retirement ages,
transitional work options and job creation for people over 65 were all
cited as examples of what should be on the to-do list at businesses and
co-director of Boston College’s Center on Aging & Work, lamented
results from her center’s survey showing that many employers don’t have
the aging workforce and its unique needs on the “company agenda.” She
also cited workers’ conundrum of discussing retirement options with
employers. Most people, James said, are afraid to signal any interest in
leaving the workforce.
This prevents the collaboration between
employers and employees that is imperative to drive change.
Full Article & Source:
What The Great Thinkers About Aging Are Thinking