The developed world is bearing witness to a 21st century miracle – the real possibility of living well to the age of 100 and beyond. Compelling scientific evidence indicates that living long and living well is most realistic for those who adopt healthy behaviors, are financially secure, and are socially engaged.

THE SIGHTLINES PROJECT investigates how well Americans are doing in each of these three areas over historical time. We assessed the number of Americans who are meeting expert recommendations for healthy living, financial security, and social engagement. These results are intended to stir national debate, guide policy development, stimulate entrepreneurial innovation, and encourage personal choices that enhance independent, 100-year lives.

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Change over historical time in % Americans who are doing well in healthy living, financial security and social engagement across six different age groups; dashed lines represent 5 percentage point change which we classified as significant.

SIGHTLINES DIRECTOR’S POST

WHY COMPARE APPLES AND ORANGES: ASSESSING DIFFERENT AGE GROUPS

Over the past year, I have presented Sightlines findings to a variety of audiences. Lately, as I have been preparing my talks, I take a beat at the beginning. It is challenging to articulate the rationale behind looking at prevalence rates broken down by six very different life stages. Why do we bother comparing age groups at all? Isn’t this like comparing apples and oranges? This may be one reason why many people don’t.

Each age group is at a different point in life,

dealing with different sets of challenges (e.g., Boomers are dealing with empty nests, or welcoming home adult children; Millennials are starting careers and figuring out their identities). Each group is also situated in their own generation-specific context. The Boomers entered adulthood during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war; the Millennials did so in a post-9/11 world, wading through the financial crisis. I would argue, however, that much like the apple farmer could learn from the orange farmer how to better cultivate soil, and how the orange farmer could learn from the apple farmer how to minimize infestation (with non-GMO and organic methods, of course), each age group can

look to the other to learn best practices and avoid pitfalls in healthy living, financial security, and social engagement.

Most research and news pieces focus in on one age group or one generation. For myself, I have spent the past 15 years doing research on aging, so the need to compare the old and the young is … Read more

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TAMARA SIMS, PhD
DIRECTOR OF THE SIGHTLINES PROJECT

SIGHTLINES IN THE NEWS

The Sightlines Project was made possible by the generous support of the following sponsors:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch | Prudential | Society of Actuaries | Transamerica | James A. Johnson

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