An epidemiologist and geriatrician, Dr. Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, has focused her career on what she sees as the definitive challenge of the 21st century: embracing our transition to an “aging society” in which, over the last century, our life expectancy has increased from fifty to eighty-plus years.
Pennar’s opening paragraph is the focus of today’s post:
“The signal public health achievement of the 20th century was the increase of the average human life span. Now, as that achievement helps raise the proportion of the aged around the world, what once seemed an unalloyed blessing is too often regarded as a burden — a financial burden, a health care burden, even a social burden.”
“It’s nuts,” said Dr. Linda P. Fried. “To assume defeat from what every one of us as individuals wants suggests we’re not asking the right questions.” She continues that findings from the science of aging should “reframe our understanding of the benefits and costs of aging.”
Dr. Linda P. Fried (Video by The New York Times06/25/2012)
Linda P. Fried: An interview with the geriatrician and dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University on preventing frailty and the transition to an aging society
So how did we, as a society, grow to be so ambivalent towards growing older? Why do so many people seem to fear it? And what can we do to turn things around?
Not just to ameliorate that gnawing unease, but to begin to uncover, highlight, and advance the myriad benefits we, as a society, can reap from the huge jump we’ve achieved in average lifespan.
How can we support older adults in maintaining involvement in their communities post-retirement? There is so much to be gained, both by our aging population and society as a whole, if we can find positive ways to encourage lifelong engagement.
Dr. Fried has focused her career on what she considers to be the challenge of the 21st century: embracing our transition to an “aging society” in which, over the last century, our life expectancy has increased from fifty to eighty-plus.