At the Top of Our Game in Sarasota County

Posted on December 21, 2011 by Suzanne Gregory

By Suzanne Gregory, Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence (SCOPE)

An article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune talked about the graying of our global population as our planet hits the 7 billion population mark.  Ted Fishman, author of “Shock of Gray”, was quoted,

“Longer life is what human beings have wanted ever since we started talking to spirits and mixing herbs in bowls.  And we worked at the top of our intelligence to get to this point of our life.  It took almost the sum total of human history to get it. And now we have to work at the top of our intelligence to solve the social challenges that come with longer life and aging societies.”

I like Ted Fishman’s thinking.  It’s definitely “glass half-full” thinking, recognizing that we have the capacity globally to meet this demographic challenge and ensure quality of life for older adults.

Naturally, part of the discussion revolves around, “how might we do this without creating an impossible burden on the younger generations?”  I recently discovered the “Global Aging Preparedness Index” , which assesses which countries are most prepared to create a balance between benefits/quality of life for older adults and fiscal burden on society. While that report analyzes options with potential outcomes for various government policies, it concludes that we all play a part.  That is, businesses, individuals and families along with government at all levels, have a role and the responsibility, to create pieces of the solution.

It is fortunate to be in Sarasota County.  The newly formed Institute for the Ages is putting together projects to develop and test products, services and policies that will contribute to the quality of life for older adults.  Sarasota residents will contribute their thinking and lived-experience as part of a beta site for numerous projects.  This is about out-of-the-box thinking and Sarasota County is squarely in the innovation arena with the potential to transform the lives of older adults here and elsewhere.

Another resource with much potential is the Aging with Dignity and Independence initiative. Led by a partnership of SCOPE, The Patterson Foundation and USF Sarasota-Manatee, this qualitative research yielded six big themes that impact the experience of aging with dignity and independence. The recent report provides questions for reflection, solutions to consider, and a broad listing of resources and best practices that have helped other communities and could catalyze ours.

Businesses, individuals, nonprofits, institutions, government - each sector has the role and the responsibility to be part of the solution.  What solutions do you want to help create?

I like to remember Albert Einstein’s words, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

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