Date: July 1st, 2013
If you’ve never fudged your age, you know someone who has. Someone who keeps turning 49, year after year, instead of embracing 50 or some other aging milestone. And if you dread your birthday and wish for a lower number on your driver’s license, you’re not alone.
True, with aging usually comes more wrinkles, more aches and pains, more pills, and even more disease and disability. But it also comes with more experiences, more joy, and more wisdom. Pfizer, Inc., one of the world’s leading health care companies, is tackling the stigmas and stereotypes of aging and challenging Americans to realize that getting older often means getting better.
Changing the Conversation
On June 5th, Pfizer invited Americans to “claim their age.” Pictures of New Yorkers captured them declaring their ages and were broadcast to a jumbotron in Times Square, while others at Pfizer headquarters and online at www.getold.com, shared their pictures and their stories.
Claim Your Age day was part of a larger conversation that is urging Americans to challenge the way we think about aging and redefine what it means to get old. The home of the campaign is the Get Old website where people can share their stories, make a plan for their healthy aging, and access resources to help them achieve their goals. The website and the campaign allow members to:
- Inspire by sharing the stories of people who are claiming their age and giving us the “power to decide for ourselves how we want to get older without preconceptions and expectations associated with each stage of life.”
- Declare not only our age but also how we feel about aging AND what we want from it.
- Explore by taking action and finding resources that help us play a more active role in our aging.
To-date GetOld.com has had more than 500,000 visitors and has more than 5,000 members who have created accounts and are candidly sharing their stories and “embracing the age they’re in.”
Bending the Aging Curve
Findings from a survey from Pfizer and Generations United underscore the need for individuals and society to take a new hard look at aging. For example, despite rising rates of chronic disease that impact nearly half of the U.S. population, 88% of respondents are “at ease,” “optimistic,” or “proud” of their physical health. On the other hand, 40% believe that being old is something to fear because of potential health and financial concerns. Alarmingly, less than 30% of respondents believe that their community is prepared to support an aging population.
With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, nearly half of our population is expected to have at least one chronic condition by 2025. Something needs to give and Pfizer believes that by breaking the “self-imposed and societal limitations” on aging, we can “discover a better quality of life at every age.”
The members at Get Old are not alone in believing in the power of lifestyle changes to prevent and delay disease and disability. According to the World Health Organization, eliminating three common risk factors for disease—poor diet, inactivity, and smoking—would prevent 80% of heart disease and stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancers.
As a partner in the Get Old campaign, the Alliance for Aging Research understands what a change in our healthspans—the years we live in good health—could mean to our society. According to a report from the Milken Institute, improvements in the prevention and management of chronic disease could reduce costs by 27% (or $1.1 trillion) in the U.S. by 2023. $905 billion of this would come from gains in productivity and $218 billion from reduced medical spending.
The Alliance for Aging Research is a partner in the Get Old campaign because we believe in the power of healthy aging and support everything from medical research to changes in attitude to increase our healthspans so we can live longer, healthier lives. We are proud to be a part of an effort that is celebrating those who confront the stigmas of aging and encourages others to let go of the inhibitions that keep them from claiming and owning their age.
Pfizer nails it in their promotional materials for Get Old —“[Aging]…wait till you see what happens next.”