Jack Watters is Vice President of External Medical Affairs at Pfizer, and his work on healthcare disparities takes him around the globe. He is also a great lover of the arts and believes that education changes everything.
We have made the first steps towards understanding the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease. This has been made possible by advances in imagine technology which have helped us visualize changes in blood flow, amyloid deposition and tissue appearance associated with impaired cognition. Similarly we have gained a greater understanding of the process of aging from degenerative conditions like arthritis to metabolic impairment like osteoporosis.
The data show that babies born today can expect to live to be 100+, possibly 120. Fifty years ago that would have been unimaginable. As important as longevity is the quality of the prolonged life especially from a health perspective. If we can take a life-cycle approach to health and especially prevention we can ensure that these extra years a healthy and of high quality.
With active engagement of older people there is an exciting opportunity to turn the increased life expectancy to good of society
I don’t believe this for a moment. Increased life expectancy is a cause for celebration. However, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we make the necessary social provisions to avoid the “burden” scenario and prosecute the investment in health and social support so that everyone in society benefits.
One of my best friends just gave birth to her second child, aged 53. She conceived naturally and delivered a normal healthy baby. She will make a wonderful mother. To conceive or not is the right of the parents and there must be no judgement associated with this very private act.
The life cycle approach I have outlined above would help ensure healthy aging. The term last years should only have a chronological meaning and not be associated with frailty and dependence.
It is evident everywhere in our society, not just in the media and other more visible forums. Ageism is especially rampant in the job market and in the practice of medicine. One important way of addressing this is the concept of ‘inter-generationality’ where generations are brought together and encouraged to interact and learn more about each other. This greater understanding and empathy can only lead to a richer, more functioning society.
Clearly not. The only people who truly understand what it means to be older are older persons. The inaccuracies are already mentioned above for example, older people are a burden socially and economically.
First of all, older people have more experience than younger people and are a source of wisdom, knowledge, mentorship. If we can ensure a healthier approach to aging there is no reason that older people cannot remain productively engaged in society, working, paying taxes and making a significant contribution to productivity.
The intergenerational approach I suggest above is essential.