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What if Nearly Everything We Think We Know About Aging is Wrong?

  • Sep 9, 2016
  • Meaghan Puglisi
  • 4-min Read

That’s the question Dr. Bill Thomas poses on his Age of Disruption tour sweeping across the country (with a Minneapolis stop on September 19.) Think about that question for a moment. What do you think the current aging experience looks like? What is that answer based on? Personal experience, professional judgement? Perhaps a little of both.

It’s an open-ended question that really has no answer. It’s meant to spark a conversation about aging, to disrupt what we think we know about it and come together to envision a new aging and ‘reinvent’ as Bill says, what it means to be old. At Lifespark, we believe our seniors play a very valuable role as contributing members of society. We also believe it’s time to change the experience they currently face.

What we know (from a study in the New England Journal of Medicine): after an initial incident, 1 in 5 seniors are rehospitalized within 30 days; 1 in 3 within 90 days. These repeat hospitalizations are creating a cycle of readmissions putting seniors on what we call the ‘roller coaster of health care crisis’ sending them in and out of the hospital and losing a piece of themselves each time they do. What we want is to reach Triple Aim – improve the overall health of our senior population, reduce cost of healthcare and most importantly, improve the experience they receive. In a recent article in the Washington Post, Dr. Thomas points to the need to create a rich set of community-based alternatives. Why? Because what he and Lifespark have learned is that we need to humanize the care our seniors receive and create better opportunities for them to ‘spark’ their lives.

We talk a lot about ‘sparking lives’ at Lifespark and it’s because it’s what we believe is missing in the aging experience. We put so much emphasis on the medical or diagnosis that we forget to look at the whole person and incorporate so much of who they are into the care plan. In fact, 90% of health outcomes are due to factors that are not related to healthcare – people want to live with purpose and passion which contributes to higher client engagement in their care – and it’s this key piece that has led us to reveal proven results that show how a different aging experience produces better health outcomes.

But it’s a conversation that’s just now starting to resonate with healthcare providers. And why we have partnered with Bill Thomas by sponsoring the Disrupt Dementia workshop and supporting his Age of Disruption tour. We want to be part of the conversation that works towards disrupting aging for our seniors and offer thought-provoking dialogue that looks at aging in a proactive way, rather than reactive; and long-term, not short-term.

The Disrupt Dementia Workshop invites people living with dementia and their allies (that’s you) to experience a new vision for living with cognitive change. It will focus on how we can all learn from people with dementia rather than experts and disrupt what we think we know.

Bill ends the tour with an original theater experience called “Life’s Most Dangerous Game” to expose just how ‘crazy’ our culture’s perspective on normal human aging can be and then asks: “What if?” What if we all lived in a world that saw aging not as a process of decline but rather as the entree to life’s most dangerous game?

For us, we want to spark lives and disrupt aging. What about you? How do you think we can disrupt aging and do you think it’s necessary? Join the conversation…

We hope you’ll join us and many others across the Twin Cities on September 19 for the Disrupt Dementia workshop and the evening theater performance. Disrupt On!


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