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The Upside of Aging: How Long Life Is Changing the World of Health, Work, Innovation, Policy and Purpose by Paul Irving

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Chapter 5 A Longevity Market Emerges

Ken Dychtwald

President and Chief Executive Officer, Age Wave

Historians will no doubt wonder why American industry worked for so long to sell to the youth market when it was their parents and grandparents who had both the money and the clout. Boomers create huge opportunities for companies—whether financial, interpersonal, or recreational.

Working with older people initially was not my cup of tea. Or so I thought. I had moved to Berkeley, California, in 1974, to work with a new human-potential training program that involved concepts like biofeedback and tai chi, nutrition and dream therapy. When it struck the program’s creator, Dr. Gay Luce, that nobody in our youth-centered culture was using these innovative therapeutic techniques to focus on the potential of the elderly, she asked me to help her create such a program. I hesitated. I was in my early twenties and I liked being with people my own age and working with those in their thirties and forties. I told Dr. Luce that I would help launch the project and then move on.

Instead, I got hooked and have remained hooked for 40 years. I became fascinated with aging, longevity, and older people. Looking past their clothing and sometimes-grizzled appearance, I saw towering figures, seasoned men and women with a vast perspective on life and intriguing home-grown wisdom. I grew increasingly intrigued by the journey of aging itself—our individual choices that make us healthy and engaged, or ill ...

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