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The longevity dividend

The longevity dividend

This video explores the many gifts that our increased life-span has brought us. This is a phenomenon known as the longevity or demographic dividend (O’Neill, 2011). It clarifies that disability in later life does not diminish our potential to contribute to the lives of others.

The longevity dividend is a key to understanding ageing, adding a badly needed counterbalance to the usual discourse on later life which focusses on the downsides of ageing, and correcting a failure to recognise that each stage of life is associated with growth and loss.

In every field of human endeavor, we are increasingly blessed with the fruits of the longevity dividend. These benefits extend from classical music through film, theatre (O’Neill, 2015), and poetry to the very real personal and economic benefits of the longevity dividend (Murphy and Topel, 2006).

Therefore, the main thrust of gerontology, the science of ageing, is to nurture, protect and enhance the longevity dividend, which may be accompanied, but not overshadowed, by age-related disease and disability.

  • What personal gifts have you found in later life?
  • How does the longevity dividend help you rethink your own personal narrative of ageing?
  • How does it help you rethink ageing in society at large?

Desmond O’Neill is a Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine at Tallaght Hospital and a Professor in Geriatric Medicine at Trinity College Dublin.

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