Reimagine Everything: ‘Disrupt Aging’ Is AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkin’s Guide to Living a Fuller Life — At Any Age

May 30, 2016 • AARP, Columnists

Ron MoriBy Ron Mori

When AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins turned 50, she got a bunch of birthday cards with the usual over-the-hill jokes, and they bugged her for days afterwards.

She resolved to be defined by who she was, not how old she was. I totally feel that way, and I know a lot of us would agree. In her new book “Disrupt Aging,” Jo Ann shows how we can all embrace opportunities and change the way society looks at getting older. She touches on all the important issues facing people as they age, from caregiving and mindful living to building age-friendly communities and making our money last. She chronicles her own journey and that of others who are making their mark as disruptors to show readers how we can be active, healthy and happy as we get older.

A national bestseller, “Disrupt Aging” is not a self-help book, nor is it a “pep talk.” It’s a reflection of our society and a guide to redefining what it means to get older. It provides an exploration of how aging is changing in today’s world with insight and inspiration from influential disruptors making their mark today. It’s about the new reality of extended middle age that we can all take advantage of. I especially like the practical, hands-on information to improve health, wealth and self.

“Disrupt Aging” challenges outdated beliefs and sparks new solutions so more people can choose how they live and age.

“Disrupt Aging” is a guide to living your life fully at every age. Inspired by our new reality, it is an open invitation to choose how you live and age. It’s a book for anyone who wants to continue exploring possibilities, celebrate discovery over decline and seek out opportunities to live the best life there is to live. I enjoyed the inspiring stories that made me think of my own life’s real possibilities.

Jo Ann writes about all sorts of people who’ve disrupted aging and reimagined their lives, from Arianna Huffington, who started Huffington Post, one of the biggest media sites on the Internet, to Jenkins’ sister Diane, who applied her passion after her kids were grown and has led efforts to improve a school in an impoverished area of Jamaica.

She tells the story of a man who retired early from an insurance company, got a Master’s degree and decided academia wasn’t for him. He figured out a way to merge his love of animals with a vision to help people, and now he and his wife are certified as a rehabilitation team, working with a service dog in hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions. Jo Ann also writes about a woman who was about to be displaced from her trailer park by a Habitat for Humanity redevelopment. Instead of moving away, she became the self-appoint “mayor” of the complex and helped it meet the needs of residents, including ones who stayed from the trailer park.

There are obviously lots of different ways that you can disrupt aging!

Jo Ann offers a lot of ways for all of us to disrupt aging in our lives, starting with the simple acceptance that opened the door for her growth: “I refuse to allow outdated expectations of what people my age should do determine what I am going to do. Instead of apologizing for my age — or denying it — I decided to embrace it and make the most of it,” she writes. “We must reject the common notion that aging equals failing and instead look at aging as a process of continuous growth.”

“Disrupt Aging” is a rallying cry for all of us. It’s time to change the story about getting older. It’s time to change the stuff around us. It’s time to look at the bigger picture, too, and demand what we want — from our cars, our homes, our workplace, our communities and more.

One hundred percent of AARP’s royalties from “Disrupt Aging” book sales support the charitable work of the AARP Foundation. Jo Ann will receive no payment or profit from book sales. You can learn about the book at www.disruptagingbook.org and read more inspiring stories at www.disruptaging.aarp. Join in and follow the conversation at #DisruptAging.

To enter a drawing for a complimentary autographed book, share your disrupt aging story by sending me an email at rmori@aarp.org.

Ron Mori is a board member for the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter, and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.

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