The Stanford Center on Longevity is doing some excellent work around aging. A major initiative of the Center is "The New Map of Life." According to the Center, in this initiative "researchers define new models for education and lifelong learning, redesign how we work, advise new policies for health care, housing, the environment and financial security, and promote more intergenerational partnerships. It will also advance a new narrative, which redefines what it means to be 'old' and values people at different stages of life."
I wrote about this map before, but just recently, the Center issued a report about The New Map of Life that is well worth reading. (See the link below to get a free copy.) The report details eight guiding principles as follows. I've included a few excerpts for each:
- Age Diversity is a Net Positive
We are in an era of "unprecedented age diversity. ...The speed, strength, and zest for discovery common in younger people, combined with the emotional intelligence and experience prevalent among older people, create possibilities for families, communities, and workplaces that haven't existed before."
- Invest in Future Centenarians to Deliver Big Returns
"As people live longer and the roles and social norms associated with age become more fluid and self-defined, less uniform and regimented, qualities such as resilience, self-efficacy (a belief in one's own abilities to shape outcomes), and curiosity (rather than dread) when confronted with change will become the emotional toolkit for longevity."
- Align Health Spans to Life Spans
"Health span should be the metric for determining how, when, and where longevity efforts are most effective."
- Prepare to be Amazed by the Future of Aging
"Today's 5-year-olds will benefit from an astonishing array of medical advances and emerging technologies that will make their experience of aging far different from that of today's older adults."
- Work More Years with More Flexibility
"Rather than plunging over a retirement 'cliff' at a time predetermined by age, workers can choose a 'glide path' to retirement over the course of several years, allowing them to gradually reduce working hours while remaining in the workforce."
- Learn Throughout Life
"We envision new options for learning outside the confines of formal education, with people of all ages able to acquire the knowledge they need at each stage of their lives, and to access it in ways that fit their needs, interests, abilities, schedules, and budgets."
- Build Longevity-Ready Communities
"Safe and flexible housing for an age-diverse population is one area of unmet need -- and tremendous opportunity. ... While zoning and planning decisions are up to local governments, state and federal policies can incentivize the development of climate-resistant, livable, walkable communities that promote the well-being and safety of people of all ages."
- Life Transitions are a Feature, Not a Bug
The New Map of Life encourages a "whole-of-life approach" that is about "optimizing each stage of life, so that benefits can compound for decades, while at the same time allowing for more time to recover from setbacks."
While some of this may sound like pie in the sky, The New Map of Life is supported by extensive research and analysis. This initiative is an exciting visionary perspective that could be a blueprint for the quality of life as future generations age. It also has more immediate implications for the way society treats aging Boomers and the manner in which we live out our older years.
Download the free report below (PDF).
Graphic: Stanford Center on Longevity