By Stuart Greenbaum
Donald J. Trump, 70, will be the oldest person to take office as president of the United States. In California, Jerry Brown, 73, is the country’s oldest governor. What they have in common as leaders is at once obvious and subtle: Both intentionally disregard their age as it relates to what they’ve accomplished. And both unintentionally demonstrate publically how older adults are extraordinarily capable of contributing to society.
Ironically, though neither see themselves as “old” they could capitalize by occasionally referring to the experience and wisdom that comes with age.
Setting aside the politics of these two polarizing officials, both do deserve credit for leading by example to breakdown stereotypes and advance the cause of healthy, purposeful longevity.
In fact, President Trump and Governor Brown (as with Hillary and Bernie, too) may be the best validation in our nation’s history of the old saw, “Age is just a number.”
President Obama used the 2015 White House Conference on Aging to reinforce his desire for “maximizing contributions older Americans can make to our country.” While Trump and Brown are maximum contributors for their (or any) age, there are no indications either will flaunt their seniority. That said, as they continue to lead and inspire others by example, most certainly there are visionary things they can do to discreetly support positive longevity. For example:
- Partner with the entertainment industry to produce a high-profile public education campaign to encourage healthy, purposeful longevity.
- Use government agencies as models to introduce innovative multi-generational workforce strategies. Partner “retirement age” employees with new hires to share talents, experience, even schedules.
- Sponsor programs to develop encore career and volunteer opportunities to help older adults repurpose their time and resources.
- Support the movement toward age-friendly cities by stipulating accessible supports and services are integrated into all infrastructure plans and projects.
- Motivate the technology industry to invent products to help us all age comfortably, conveniently and affordably.
- Commit substantial funding to research on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, the biggest fear and heartache of aging; and a huge, growing drain on the economy.
The point is, these two vital, ambitious septuagenarians President Trump and Governor Brown are positioned to do more to support all older adults — beyond what they don’t think or say or legislate.
Stuart Greenbaum is editor of the books Longevity Rules and Before the Age Boom Goes, lead author of the online blog Humble Sky and president of Greenbaum Public Relations. He is a Governor’s appointee to the California Commission on Aging, although the opinions expressed in this essay are independent of CCoA.
Both are in their 70’s, but that is truly where the comparison ends. Hopefully Trump doesn’t forget how old he is and turn on senior citizens.
While there are obvious differences, their similarities you have pointed out may allow some common ground for the discussion of the longevity dividend each are demonstrating, as well as the benefits of inter-generational associations that have mutual benefits.