Tuesday, March 6, 2012


LONGEVITY IS A NATURAL RESOURCE WORTH “EXPLOITING.” Eskaton’s commitment to natural resources includes energy efficiency, ridesharing, recycling and waste management. But, undoubtedly, the most respected natural resource within Eskaton’s 30 communities is our resident population -- the 3,500 older adults with energy, time and wisdom to spare.

Longevity truly is a rare asset, one worth conserving and “exploiting.” It has the capacity to fuel the economic engine, concentrate brainpower on innovation, add stability in unstable times, and provide safety in numbers (at a rate of 10,000 people turning 65 every day.)

“The shame is that we’re only looking at the problems,” said Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in a recent interview with the Stanford Report. When, in fact, she reminds us, “the number of older people in the world is the only natural resource that’s actually growing.”

Carstensen is among a handful of authorities on longevity who gives applicable context to facts and numbers, rather than simply reporting them for dramatic effect. And, more importantly, she focuses on solutions rather than problems. For example, with respect to “retirement,” she makes the case in the SR interview that “money from 40 years of work can’t fund 30 years of retirement.” Instead, she proposes to spread out work for more years, cut the number of working days per week and the hours worked per day, and to integrate more sabbaticals into working schedules to give more time to other obligations.

This exemplifies the transformative thinking that values older adults and longevity as a natural resource, and as a benefit rather than a burden. Science, government and too many people associate age with decline. When instead we should appreciate that with age comes knowledge, experience, perspective and contextual thinking; as well as emotional stability and purposeful engagement.

Eskaton’s residents exploit their resourcefulness daily through volunteerism, mentoring and “encore careers.” It’s inspiring to witness, though they would claim it’s only natural.

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