Disrupt Aging | Jo Ann Jenkins

Summary of: Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age
By: Jo Ann Jenkins


In ‘Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age’, author Jo Ann Jenkins presents a fresh approach towards aging. With societies living longer and healthier than ever before, the book explores the additional life stage of ‘extended middle age’, where people evolve and redefine themselves. This summary offers insights into the importance of living fulfilling lives, reflecting on the value of our experiences, and the impact of lifestyle choices on our health. Furthermore, it delves into how communities are adapting to accommodate older citizens, the new four pillars of financial security, and how to break free from outdated stereotypes surrounding age.

New Longevity: Embracing Extended Middle Age

Life expectancy has increased drastically with age 50 being the new 30. Chronic diseases have been replaced with healthy and productive years. Aging is now a time to explore, redefine and give back to society; with financial security, health, and relationships being the focus.

The world’s population today is experiencing an unprecedented shift with an increase in life expectancy from 47 years in the 1900s to 78 years in the 21st century. This increase in longevity means that a person who is over 50 years old today, by 2021 standards, is now considered to be in their “extended middle age.” As a result, half of those born in 2016 will potentially celebrate their 100th birthday. Thankfully, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, smallpox, and tetanus are no longer factors in determining life expectancy. Improvements in treatments for chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as health awareness campaigns and regular screenings, help people delay the physical decline that was once considered inevitable.

This new longevity introduces a new stage in life where people can explore, redefine, and give back to society in ways no one thought possible decades ago. Older people are shifting their focus from owning a home, cars and having a steady job, to establishing financial security, improving health and focusing on rewarding relationships. Today’s older generation who are in the “extended middle age,” assume roles as caregivers, volunteers, and mentors. They are active in their grandkids’ lives, help pay for cars, education, and vacations. In summary, embracing this new longevity means viewing aging as an opportunity to explore new possibilities, redefine oneself, and give back to society.

The Power of the Longevity Economy

Aging is no longer about decline but rather a desire to live a fulfilling, self-sufficient and connected life. People aged 50 and above make up the $7.1 trillion longevity economy, which will rise to $13.5 trillion by 2032. About 20% of the US population of 2030 will comprise people aged 65 and above, while those above 60 will outnumber the children globally by 2040. However, most people’s views on aging remain outdated and steeped in negative stereotypes. Disrupting aging involves reimagining later years’ lens, creating supportive social policies, and championing new perspectives on aging.

Embrace Your Age

Aging shouldn’t be viewed as a time of decline. Instead, embrace your journey and the person you’ve become. Fight ageism and stay vital.

As people age, cultural stereotypes make them view life past age 50 as a time of deterioration and dependence. These perceptions are not only untrue but can be toxic for one’s mental health. Instead of fading away with age, people should own their age and embrace their journey and experiences that shaped who they are today.

The perception of aging gradually changes from growth and development to one of decline. This attitude can be limiting for people over 50, and it is essential to fight ageism by changing the mindset and speaking out. Ageism can shape public policy, employment practices, and influence the way society treats the elderly.

People should stop yearning to stay young and start focusing on staying vital. Health is not a separate part of our lives but the glue that holds the different aspects of our complex lives together. Accepting negative views of aging can limit one’s choices and behaviors and cause people to internalize and succumb to the challenges of getting older.

It is time to stop accepting cultural stereotypes and to embrace aging as an opportunity to continue growing and experiencing life.

The Midlife Quest

Have you ever woken up one day, wondering what the next phase of your life holds, uncertain of your desires and aspirations? This is the shock of “mindless aging,” a phenomenon resulting from the collapse of the assumptions we held regarding our later years. In today’s world, where the path taken by our predecessors does not apply, this is the time of self-reflection that some may refer to as a “midlife crisis.” However, a more positive term is “midlife quest.” Rejecting the “aging-as-decline” mindset brings forth numerous opportunities to seek new interests and attain peace, happiness, fulfillment, and further growth.
As illustrated in the story of Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, the founder of AARP, finding a purpose in your later years, pursuing it passionately, and leaving a positive legacy can change everything. Our lives are different, and so should be our assumptions about this phase of life.

Take Control of Your Health

Genetics only play a small role in your health prognosis with medical care and lifestyle choices making up the majority. While the US healthcare system focuses on treating illness, taking charge of your health is within your control. Adopting healthy habits, such as exercise and a balanced diet, can help prevent disease. Four cognitive shifts can help you make fitness and well-being a lifelong priority. These include shifting from physical and mental diminishment to fitness, focusing on disease prevention, becoming an empowered healthcare consumer, and ensuring dependable access to care. By taking these steps, you can embrace aging as a time of growth and development and enjoy a fulfilling and healthy life.

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