“I’ll never forget my 50th birthday. My husband took me out to an elegant dinner and surprised me by inviting a number of our friends, not to mention our two children. I was having the time of my life. It was wonderful. I thought to myself, Life doesn’t get any better than this! Then, I started opening my birthday cards.
“Happy 50th — You’re now officially over the hill.”
“Welcome to the Over the Hill gang.”
“Turning 50 — Don’t worry: You’ve still got it … So what if you can’t remember where it is? Happy 50th birthday.”
At first, I didn’t think much about it — just part of the ritual of turning 50. But the more I thought about it, the more uneasy I became.
I really felt good about turning 50, celebrating with my friends and being happy about where I was in life. But when I read those cards, it occurred to me that hidden within them was a not-so-subtle cultural stereotype that didn’t fit the way that I and many of my contemporaries felt. I wasn’t old. I wasn’t over the hill; I was on top of the mountain. I liked being there and planned on enjoying it for a while. In fact, I was already thinking about what mountain I wanted to climb next. I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t be defined by my age. I want people to look at me for who I am, not how old I am.
And, business and industry are seizing on this Disrupt Aging opportunity, innovating new products and services in virtually every industry to help people live better as they age. Especially exciting are technological innovations incorporating voice recognition, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence to help people live better as they age.
All of this is having a positive effect on the way we live and age. Instead of seeing just dependent retirees, we’re beginning to see a new type of experienced, accomplished work force. Instead of seeing expensive costs, we’re seeing an exploding consumer market generating $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity by people 50 and over. Instead of seeing a growing pool of dependents, we’re beginning to see intergenerational communities with new and different strengths. And, we’re beginning to realize that more often than not, what’s good for the old is also good for the young.
Our hope is to inspire you to create your own rules for living better as you age. Our vision is a world in which each of us is valued for who we are, not judged by how old we are.”
Excerpt from AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins: What 'Disrupt Aging' Is All About: Here’s what we’re doing to change the conversation by Amanda Duarte, AARP, January 9, 2019