By Steve Fisher
IN 50;PLUS YEARS, Jo Ann Jenkins has come
a long way from her upbringing in Mobile,
Alabama. Formerly the chief operating officer at the Library of Congress, the Costco
member is now the CEO of the
American Association of Retired
Persons, better known as AARP.
While AARP is the main advocate for issues involving people
over 50, Jenkins wants to do
more. In her book, Disrupt
Aging: A Bold New Path to Living
Your Best Life at Every Age, she
advocates a new approach to the subject. The Connection recently spoke with her
The Costco Connection: What
exactly is the concept of Disrupt Aging?
Jo Ann Jenkins: It [is] about how do
we start thinking about aging in a positive
way and [how] getting older is not necessarily about decline. It’s about how you’re going
to live your life; and we know that, with medical science and, hopefully, good health, people are going to live an extra 20 or 30 years.
Nowadays, people at 55 are starting whole
CC: You talk about embracing our age?
JJ: It’s more about being your age and
owning it, rather than trying to defy the fact
that you’re getting older. Fifty is not the new
30, and 60 is not the new 40; 50 is the new 50,
and it’s OK, and it looks and feels differently than it did for my parents
just 20 years ago. It’s up to you to
decide how you want to live, not
how you want to age. For some
people that might include plastic
surgeries, but for others, like
myself, I’m comfortable with who
I am. I’m comfortable at 58, and I
think it looks good.
CC: Is living longer due to state of mind
or healthy living?
JJ: We have for many, many years just
accepted this fact that after you reach a certain age you’re on the way down, and I absolutely for one don’t think that’s true anymore.
For many of us—for most of us—this is a time
for increased opportunity for us to give back,
for us to live our life to its fullest.
Aging is something to look forward to,
not something to fear. I think changing that
mind-set and [having a] positive attitude and
actually having a plan for how you’re going to
live your life sets a whole different dynamic to
how you live those extra 20 or 30 years.
AARP’s Jo Ann Jenkins wants
to put aging in a positive light
CC: In the U.S., we have a different mind-set about aging, and aged individuals are not
as well respected as in some other cultures.
How do we bridge that gap?
JJ: We want to change the conversation
in this country about what it means to age. In
many other countries, with age comes wisdom and respect, and here as a society we
often make fun of people.
In the first chapter, I talk about turning 50
and all of my friends getting together to celebrate, and how exciting it was until I was sitting there reading all the cards about, oh,
now you’re over the hill; oh, you still have it,
you just can’t find it; and all of those kinds of
things, which are not necessarily meant to be
hateful, but it is a mind-set about what we
expect of people at a certain age.
I don’t think there’s anything that says at a
certain age you can no longer do something.
I think the book is to empower people to live
the way they want to live, and for us to really
try to change these outdated beliefs and stereotypes of what it means to age. C
Jo Ann Jenkins
arts & entertainment
Disrupt Aging (Item #1055540) will be
available in all Costcos on April 5.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to see Jo Ann Jenkins
explain “disrupting aging.”
(See page 11 for details.)