Opportunities and Challenges of an Aging Society

New Global Aging Index Gauges Health and Wellbeing of Aging Populations

Index launched at International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics' World Congress. U.S. among the top-ranked countries for healthy aging.

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Network launches "Aging Society Index" project with support of the John A. Hartford Foundation.

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National Geographic’s BREAKTHROUGH Series Features Network’s Research

Directed by Ron Howard, “Age of Aging,” a special production of the National Geographic Cable Channel’s BREAKTHROUGH series focuses on the human aspects of the aging process. The production highlights research from S. Jay Olshansky, PhD, and other Network members on the value of research on the aging process rather than the standard strategy of targeting age-related disease. 
As age is a major risk factor for many diseases, such a “senescence- based” strategy has the promise of reducing the incidence of many disorders simultaneously rather than the current “if one disease doesn’t get you, another will” approach. In the show, Director Howard also emphasizes animal and preliminary human research that has identified a number of potential pharmacologic approaches to slowing the aging process.
Read research abstract
Watch “Age of Aging”


Network Members Provide Expert Insight at National Academy of Medicine’s Annual Meeting  

On October 19, 2015, members of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society participated in the National Academy of Medicine’s Annual Meeting featuring a daylong scientific program on Aging. The program explored the biology of aging; its public health and social impacts; and exciting innovations that could catalyze progress in extending the lifespan and foster healthy aging. 
Network member, Laura Carstensen, PhD, opened the program with a keynote address on life expectancy and longevity. Network chair, John W. Rowe, MD, presented a summary of the Network’s work on the challenges and opportunities of an Aging Society and moderated a panel of experts that included Network member, James Jackson, PhD, on social influences, interventions and impacts.
Watch the video of the entire program or program segments

Addressing the Issues
On April 21, 2015, the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging hosted a policy discussion: Addressing Issues Facing an Aging Society.
Read the overview and program of the policy discussion.
Watch the video of the policy discussion.
Review the full slideshow presentation.

An aging society brings with it challenges, but also possibilities if policies and programs can be realigned to tap the strengths of aging Americans. Read our recommended smart solutions for an aging society.

Network Members Discuss America’s Aging Population with Richard Heffner on “The Open Mind”

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV
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Opportunities and Challenges of an Aging Society

Imagine a society with many more walkers than strollers. Tomorrow's America will be a unique Aging Society, forged by two critical forces. First, we will experience the effects of the remarkable increases in disability-free life expectancy of the twentieth century. Second, over the next decade, enormous ''baby boom'' generation, 76 million strong, will reach retirement age. Taken together, these forces will create an America populated, in large part, by previously unimagined numbers of older people.

What will life in an Aging America be like for the elderly, and, perhaps more importantly, for the middle-aged and younger generations? As America ages, it is also becoming increasingly diverse. We are likely entering a period of rapid change in many of our society's key institutions, including retirement, education, housing and labor markets, churches, local communities, political parties, government, and the family itself. While some analysis and much political discussion has circulated around the sustainability of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, there has been much less work on the many critical issues surrounding the social, economic, and institutional implications of an Aging Society. For example, how will the aging of society impact those in various socioeconomic groups disparately? We must understand where we will likely go, and develop the policies and strategies at the local and national levels that will optimize life opportunities for all age and socioeconomic groups in an Aging America.

Starting in mid 2006, the MacArthur Foundation sponsored a set of exploratory consultations with recognized scholars from relevant disciplines to evaluate the proposition that a significant opportunity exists for the Foundation to make an important contribution in this area. This vigorous planning phase included meetings of American and European scholars from relevant disciplines and discussions with other groups and organizations working in areas related to an Aging Society. From these meetings emerged an agenda for a research network to conduct a society-wide, broad-based analysis of the modifications required in our major societal institutions to facilitate emergence of a productive, equitable Aging Society in the United States. read more...