This is the age of longevity with a Tsunami of old flooding the social landscape. Initial curiosity by younger generations has quickly given way to alarm. The olds are coming, they warn. Their burden will bankrupt us. Maybe. But then again, they just might save us.
Tipping the population scale to old goes beyond burden. It ushers in a mature cohort that understands on a visceral level life is hard for everyone. This pivotal insight gives rise to a new empathy that with the right encouragement unlocks the potential for new contributions. As a transformative experience, it moves old from bystander to change agent and affirms its essential role in addressing the ills of a suffering world. This unique contribution potential of the last phase of life I call “longevity capital.”
Mobilizing longevity capital in a youth obsessed culture requires a determined rebranding of old. Instead of focusing on deficit inventories that discourage contributions, old needs to be recast as well matched and prequalified for contributions and needed at every stage of life.
The re-contextualizing of the potential of old will inspire collective action and spawn longevity networks based friendships, affiliations and causes. Technology will maximize the reach and influence of these networks as well as mitigate the limitations of health and geography.
Serendipitously, longevity capital will also offer boomers a second occasion to make good on their youthful aspirations to change the world. Lucky for them, the world still needs changing. Lucky for us, they have just enough time left to make a difference.
This post was first published at the websiteDavid Solie, Aging Parent Insights, and inspired by Mary Catherine Bateson's keynote presentation at the 6th International Conference for Ageing and Spirituality.