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Aspects of Aging – Extended Life Expectancy


Recently we have been hearing about new projections of life expectancy. The life time of a baby born today in western society is estimated to be 105 years! The thought of looking at a newborn and imagining his or her life a hundred years from now elicits all sorts of fascinating questions.

Will eighty be the average age of retirement? Given the current focus on healthy eating, exercising and socializing, can we presume that the baby will remain fit and active for a full life? What will she do with all of this accumulated good energy? How will he spend the accumulated intellectual wealth of a lifetime?

Technology will change the world in ways we cannot now imagine. What effect will it have on the state of human interaction?

Mothers and fathers have asked themselves similar questions since the world began. They always will! But as such dramatic changes in life expectancy are presented, the need for a broader view for future social and economic policy emerges. Are we planning?

We have been gaining one year in five for some time now but have been rather slow in both developing and implementing the support systems which will be required over the next few years.

What priorities will capture the interest and imagination of Canadians to identify and forge necessary processes so that our country can absorb and sustain the oldest population we have ever experienced?

Assuming a demographic profile to include a significant percentage of productive people in their eighth, ninth or tenth decade, what well-established practices common today need to be reviewed?

Education is one example.

Life-long learning will be of increasing importance so that seniors can stay current with technology as a tool for cultural interchange, growth and development in the areas of mental health, disease control and any number of quality-of-life subjects. How will education be modified, funded, extended,

Similar questions arise in relation to housing, the environment, transportation and government.

Ultimately, increased life-expectancy will demand change in virtually every aspect of society. We must plan now for the biggest impact of all: on the economy.

Written by Anne Duggan, Invited Advisor to Bell Alliance on Aspects of Aging

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