For the past eight years, Southwest Airlines generously has provided air tickets to a number of attendees at the Aging in America Conference. This year, they allocated a large portion of their gift to people attending the ASA Leadership Institute at the Conference. They were awarded tickets based on answers to essay questions posed by ASA. Cick here to learn more about the 2015 Leadership Institute participants.
In a fortuitous bit of timing, the May 2015 50th anniversary of Older Americans Month coincides with the publication of the Spring 2015 issue of Generations. It’s fortuitous because both the golden anniversary and Generations focus on how older adults can take charge of their lives and remain engaged. For more information on what you can do to celebrate and foster the 50th anniversary of Older Americans Month in your community, click here.
Ageism is alive and well, with old-age stereotypes lurking in public and private institutions. From the water cooler to the webpage, negative age bias is frustratingly prevalent. For older individuals, recognizing the current reality is a difficult, yet necessary, first step toward self-empowerment. Those who take that step position themselves to make their later years as productive and purposeful as they can be.
Evidence of Ageism Abounds
Older adults face many health decisions requiring their active and involved participation. Fortunately, today’s older adults have access to more health information than ever before, from traditional sources such as books, magazines, and broadcast media, to online sources like WebMD, Wikipedia, and hospital and medical association websites. And now, even more medical research also is available.
The myths of aging are stubborn. For generations, these myths have been a drag on the possibilities people ages 50 and older see for themselves, and they have maintained a stranglehold on the notion of well-being at this later stage in life. Despite reams of research countering the false narratives spun by these myths, they persist.
On the cutting edge of the self-empowered aging trend are those who wish to delve into their own DNA for clues about their future health. Thanks to technological developments, low-cost genetic tests are now available for as little as $100. The dirty little secret, however, is that the results of such tests rarely prompt even the most health conscious people to make changes in entrenched lifestyle habits.
Dr. Martin Makary is chief of Islet Transplantation Surgery and a professor of Health Policy & Management at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as a medical commentator for Fox News and NBC’s TODAY show. He created the surgical checklist later made popular by Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto (New York: Picador, 2011), and chaired the World Health Organization’s technical workgroup on measuring surgical quality worldwide.
Every May we celebrate Older Americans Month in order to acknowledge and recognize the contributions older Americans make to the nation. This year, the Administration for Community Living has chosen the theme Get into the Act to spotlight the ways in which older adults are taking charge of their health, remaining engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.