Recent posts highlight the research of geriatrician Dr. Linda P. Fried that adds to our knowledge. Today let's look at her work that uses current knowledge to take effective action.
Collaborating with social activist Marc Freedman and others, Fried helped develop Experience Corps -- a nationwide program that trains volunteers 55 and older to tutor economically disadvantaged children (K - 3rd grade).
Theoretically, Fried posits, Experience Corps addresses the principle of generativity (developed by psychologist Erik Erikson), namely, the idea that members of an aging generation need both to help and to pass knowledge on to a younger generation.
Beyond generativity, intuition tells us that the elderly might benefit from any activity that stimulates them positively -- physically, emotionally and/or spiritually. To this end, Dr. Fried works with Dr. Laura L. Carstensen (Director of Stanford Center on Longevity), searching for ways to encourage people to become involved in activities that can be continued after retirement and into old age. Aiming for a win-win for patients and society, they hope to encourage the development of "infrastructures that tap the real talents and potential contributions that healthy older people can make to societies."
Fried practices what she preaches. Every 2 months, this busy woman travels on her own dime to meetings where "Dr. Fried challenges, prods and teases her younger colleagues. She reminds them of the questions, big and small, that they are trying to address."
Dr. Fried's work has lessons for Healthy Survivors of any age, as I'll discuss next.