In 1945, the average life expectancy was 42 years. Today, a little more than half a century later, it is already 76 years. We need to learn how to enjoy this gift. The revolution of longevity is already happening, with impacts on us as individuals and the society as a whole, now and in the future. The truth is that we need to prepare ourselves to live more than we have planned to and prepare for the impacts it will cause on our families and in our relationships. We should focus on reaching an old age above the level of dependence. In addition to the obvious personal benefits of an old age with better quality, we can also be productive and useful resources to our families, the economy and society. It is possible to avoid reaching this phase below the line of dependence, particularly by starting prevention and care right now. We should have a very clear perspective that oversees the whole course of our life.
At any moment, we can promote an intervention and shift that which can be improved. It is always possible to begin a physical activity, take greater care of our body and mind, develop a purpose and remain active until the end. Kalache mentions four major assets that are necessary for aging well: health, knowledge, relationships, and money. The earlier we begin to grow them, the better. There is always time to start as these assets promote resilience and the reserves required to adapt and grow with the effects and challenges we face in our lives. The one who uses these assets to find a solution is likely to enjoy aging well.
THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND HOW IT CHANGES OUR LABOR RELATIONSHIPS.
The fourth industrial revolution was driven by progress after the third industrial revolution. We are moving to a much more complex form of innovation, where multiple technologies act simultaneously, quickly and are hyperconnected. Instead of properties, the important asset today is access. More than information, we need discernment and imagination to use it in the right way. Such adjustments in the provision of services and thoughts are radically changing the nature of work. We can either enjoy this opportunity or we will miss it.
Based on this idea, it is no use to train a child today hoping that this knowledge will serve him or her for the rest of their life. Firstly, a child should be taught how to think, how to adapt, renew, and be resilient. The ability to learn throughout life is a critical habit for us to adapt.
REVOLUTION OF EDUCATION: IT’S OUR SOLE RESPONSIBILITY.
The need for flexibility, adaptability and the ability to reinvent oneself and be constantly ready for changes brings us to a third revolution that still needs to happen: the revolution in education. The additional 30 years of life that we have earned should help us see in a different perspective how we are sharing our life so far. We are not aging like our parents or grandparents. And this is not new. Just remember that the period between childhood and adulthood, when many of our parents and grandparents were already working, was not treated with as much attention as it is today by the media and in society. The concept od adolescence was “invented” by baby-boomers. It is time to propose a new social construction: gerontolescence and the transition between adulthood and old age.
What does this have to do with education? The education framework should be completely revised. In a fast-changing society of fewer young people and more and more elderly people, how can the system develop structure that focuses the entire period of study on a single phase of life, mostly before the age of 18 (particularly for the poorest population), and does not foresee new study possibilities after that age? How can the system adopt an education and work structure based on the 19th century, when people studied until the age of 14, worked hard and died in their 70s?
Even the social security systems should be revised, since it was created in those days, following a model of society that was completely different from the current one.
The course of life has to be reinvented, from beginning to end. We need to think of a more colorful life. A life in which we can enjoy the best of it from the beginning, take a break from work and study, take a sabbatical, and return to work afterwards. A course of life in which we choose when and how to study, and when and how to retire. In this perspective, school is not just a child’s thing, college is not a teenager’s thing, work is not an adult thing, and retirement is not an old person’s thing.
In this perspective, all ages and generations meet at different times and exchange knowledge, and are mentors of each other. It would wonderful to be among the first generations responding to this revolution of longevity. And we can do this by promoting intergenerational harmony, which refers to one generation concerning about the other, and generativity, which refers to activities between generations. In this new proposed course of life, we don’t need to worry about having a career, but about leaving a legacy.