New 'Decade of Healthy Aging' Helps Us Measure Research Progress

Bill Gates’ well-known quote, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten,” is a useful reminder to the aging research, practice and education communities as we collectively march into the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed Decade of Healthy Aging (2020-2030).

The WHO sees this as “an opportunity to bring together governments, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media, and the private sector for ten years of concerted, catalytic and collaborative action to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live.” While it’s an exciting mechanism for gaining the attention of world governments and other multi-national organizations, it’s also a useful time horizon for us to keep in mind as we measure progress on the major aging-related issues of today.

Thanks to the dedicated work of GSA member researchers, important progress is being made on all fronts daily. However, it is sometimes hard to fully appreciate its impact day to day. The Decade of Healthy Aging gives us a platform for celebrating this work over the next ten years and for marking important achievements along the way.

This time horizon is particularly valuable for the Reframing Aging Initiative, the major social change program GSA is shepherding on behalf of the Leaders of Aging Organizations with the support of several forward-thinking philanthropic funders. While this work is just fully getting underway, it is gaining extraordinary momentum nationwide. Major social change takes time and having the Decade of Healthy Aging as a chronological “yardstick” provides an important framework.

I invite GSA members everywhere to join in this important work in the years ahead. Here’s to the Roaring Twenties (21st century style)!

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