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West J Med. Oct 1997; 167(4): 216–219.
PMCID: PMC1304534

Building communities that promote successful aging.

Abstract

Despite the fact that, in a few years, a fifth of the US population will be older than 65 years and people will be living a third of their lives after retirement, we have developed few avenues that would permit older adults to play meaningful roles as they age and few institutions to harness the experience that older adults could contribute to society. In fact, older adults constitute this country's only increasing natural resource--and the least used one. In this article we consider the rationale for developing institutions that harness the abilities and time of older adults, rather than focusing solely on their needs. Such an approach would decrease the structural lag between a social concept of retirement as unproductive leisure and an aging population that is larger, healthier, and with a need for more productive opportunities. Gerontologically designed opportunities for contribution on a large social scale could well provide a national approach to primary prevention to maintain health and function in older adults.

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Selected References

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