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Ken Dychtwald Op Ed: Five Age-Related Issues Biden and Trump Must Address

Five issues must be addressed "if our newfound longevity is to be a triumph rather than a tragedy." 

Ken Dychtwald, best-selling author and founder and CEO of Age Wave, posted the following Op Ed on LinkedIn. The American gerontologist and psychologist pointed out critical issues for an aging population and posed theoretical questions to the presidential nominees.

“As birth rates continue to decline and the baby boomers turn 70 at the rate of 10,000+ a day, we are living in truly unchartered territory and longevity has become humanity’s new frontier. This demographic transformation will create new lifestyle and marketplace opportunities as well as potentially challenging medical, fiscal, and intergenerational challenges. Based on 50 years of research, analysis and activism on aging, I have come to believe that there are five transpartisan issues that must be addressed if our newfound longevity is to be a triumph rather than a tragedy. 

Issue # 1: What is the New Age of “Old?”

Our economy is hinged to 19th century notions of longevity and old age. When Germany's Otto Von Bismarck picked 65 to be the marker of old age in the 1880s, the average life expectancy in his country was only 45. 

Question for Biden and Trump: At what age do you think that people become “old” today and do you think of yourself as “old?”  

Issue #2: The Diseases of Aging Could Be the Financial and Emotional Sinkhole of the 21st Century.

As a result of modern medical advances and public health infrastructure, we’ve managed to prolong the lifespan, but we have done far too little to extend the healthspan—as pandemics of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s and diabetes are running rampant. 

Question for Biden and Trump: Are you willing to make beating the diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s before they beat us your “moonshot,” and commit whatever resources are necessary to help make our healthspans match our lifespans

Issue # 3: Averting a New Era of Mass Elder Poverty

According to the Government Accounting Office, 52% of all households near retirement (headed by someone age 55+) have no retirement savings and about 51% of our population have no pensions beyond Social Security. 

Question for Biden and Trump: How would you avert mass poverty among the aging boomer generation (half of whom are already retired)?  

Issue # 4: Ending Ageism 

Ending ageism our post-industrial youth-focused society, many people of all ages are “gerontophobic”— and many of our institutions are ageist —from education, to advertising, to employment hiring practices to housing. 

Question for Biden and Trump: What would you do to wipe out ageism in America?

Issue # 5: The New Purpose of Maturity

Notwithstanding the obvious aging of our population, political, religious, business and community leaders have yet to agree on a compelling vision for the purpose of the additional years so many of us will be living. 

Question for Biden and Trump: What is your biggest idea for what America’s nearly 70 million retirees could be doing to contribute more to our society?” Dychtwald finishes with:


An “age wave” is coming that could either make or break America. It’s critical that our next president have fresh ideas and practical solutions for the unprecedented age-related changes ahead.


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