You might recognize Jo Ann Jenkins from the television commercials that have been popping up all over lately. She’s been singing the gospel of AARP’s philosophy both on-air and in her new book, Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, due out next month. Here she shares some keys:
Q: Why do we need to disrupt aging?
A: I think it’s such an exciting way to think about aging. It’s almost like we’re igniting this movement that it’s OK to be 50 or 60 or 70 and for people to really own their age and feel good about where they are in life. That’s exactly what I want the book to do: for people to recognize that they are in charge of their life and it’s not so much about aging, it’s about living your best life and being the best person you can be regardless of where you are in your stage in life.
Q: What advice do you give about how others can maintain their best lives as they age?
A: I like to focus the book around three areas: health, wealth, and self. We need to focus on our own personal health; we really need to be empowered users of the healthcare system and not dependent users; we need to start eating healthier and exercise at an earlier age. We need to think early about our finances–it’s not too early in your 20s to start thinking about saving for your later years. We absolutely don’t want to outlive our money and we can’t depend on Social Security to make sure that we’re going to have the money we’re going to need. And the last area is around self: how do we start thinking about what our purpose is in life–getting people to focus on thinking about what they truly want to do with this extra 20 or 30 years that we’re going to live beyond what our parents and grandparents lived.
Q: What does your best life look like?
A: I think I’m living my best life. I was asked to come over to AARP in 2010 to head up their foundation, and at that time I had almost 25 years in public service, so I could have retired. I decided no, that I really felt like it was time for me to do something different, that both my kids were out of college, and that I had all of this expertise and free time. I have been very fortunate over the years to be put in very significant places in my work life but I have to tell you I think I’m having the best time of my life doing the work that I’m doing now at AARP.