At what age are we past our prime? At 60? 70? 80 years old? How come some defy the aging process altogether and remain in their prime indefinitely? These philosophical questions around human longevity have consumed me over the past two years while working with Mediterranean Sea Towers, the largest eldercare provider in Israel.
Together with their executive team, we crafted a bold new vision for their retirement communities - one that challenges the notion that old age equals decline. My exposure to the residents - people with more life behind them than ahead - has caused me to reconsider so many assumptions about the aging process.
According to cultural historian Carl Honoré, author of the provocative book “Bolder”, our youth-obsessed society views aging as a problem to be solved rather than a natural phase of life to be embraced. We worship the supposed vigor and beauty of youth without appreciating the hard-won wisdom and self-assurance that comes with age.
I was thrilled to collaborate with the forward-thinking leaders of the company on ways to shift this outdated mindset. How could we showcase seniors not just as takers and receivers but as givers and contributors? The answer was not simply providing more typical activities like lectures, games, and babysitting but creating meaningful leadership roles for residents.
One novel initiative trains seniors to be professional mentors, imparting their knowledge to younger generations. Other residents judge global startup competitions sponsored by the company's investment fund, lending their seasoned perspective.
Age has innumerable advantages if given the opportunity. Perhaps it's time we retire the cliché that old means over the hill and recognize the value experience brings. For many, the best is yet to come.