Perseverance and attention to social connections, health, and finances will give people the best chance to thrive as they age, according to a new report titled "Longevity Fitness: Financial and Health Dimensions Across the Life Course." It also says that policymakers, employers, and individuals can take actions now to give people the best chance of maintaining their longevity fitness as older adults.
The publication was developed by The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and supported by Bank of America. It uses the term longevity fitness to describe how people can thrive, not just survive, through social, health, and wealth equity.
It further sheds light on a growing body of literature showing that people can make the most of opportunities that come their way by taking three steps: cultivating social relationships with friends and close relatives, maintaining one's health through prevention and lifestyle, and building wealth by living within one's means and saving for the future.
"This report translates the science of so many GSA members and describes the many challenges and opportunities across the life course in maximizing our financial and health fitness," said Peter Lichtenberg, PhD, ABPP, FGSA, of Wayne State University, who chaired the advisory board that oversaw content development for the new publication.
Research and innovations addressing the three steps are examined through vignettes about four generations of a fictional family -- Mary, Robert, Judy, and Bob -- whose respective stories illustrate the challenges of thriving at 85, 65, 45, and 25 years of age. Mary's story of overlapping pressures that occur as people age into their 80s and 90s is presented first, followed by Robert's need for social ties as he retires, Judy as her children leave home and she focuses on the health challenges of midlife, and Bob as he ponders the financial aspects of life as a millennial.
"With this research, The Gerontological Society of America has taken an important step to better understand how to navigate our journeys in life in an era of longer life spans," said Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions, Bank of America. "This study, together with our own research on life priorities and life stages, provides actionable guidance to individuals and families throughout their financial lives."
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society -- and its 5,500+ members -- is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA's structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational unit, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.