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Nov. 23, 2021, 2:44 p.m. EST

How will we make the most of an extra 30 years of life?

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By Laura Carstensen

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Making communities longevity-ready

Currently, individual life expectancies in the U.S. can vary by as much as 20 years, depending on where a person is born and raised. We must start now to design and build neighborhoods that are longevity-ready, and to assess potential investments through a lens of long life, considering not only current quality of life, but the impact of our homes and communities on our future selves.

Finally, we must all be prepared to be amazed by the future of aging!

Today’s children will grow up in tomorrow’s world. Medical advances will lead to treatments both more effective and more personalized than what we currently experience. Progress in artificial intelligence, ubiquitous high-speed connectivity, materials and manufacturing hold the promise of redesigning a more flexible and equitable world.

And while there is currently no way to stop the process of aging, the emerging field of geroscience holds the potential to transform  how  we age, by seeking to identify and reprogram the genetic and molecular mechanisms behind aging at a cellular level. Such interventions would simultaneously reduce the risk of the host of diseases and degenerative conditions for which age is the dominant risk factor.

Meeting the challenges of longevity is not the sole responsibility of government, employers, health care providers or insurance companies. It is an all-hands, all-sector undertaking, requiring the best ideas from the private sector, government, medicine, academia and philanthropy.

Read next: This couple retired 2 years ago on about $27,000 a year. Here’s how that’s going

It is not enough to reimagine or rethink society to become longevity-ready; we must build it, and fast. The policies and investments we undertake today will determine how the current young become the future old — and whether we make the most of the 30 extra years of life that have been handed to us.

Laura Carstensen is the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and professor of psychology and Fairleigh S. Dickinson professor in public policy at Stanford University. 

This article is reprinted by permission from  , © 2021 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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