Many older adults have been asked about their basic values: “What values matter the most to you?” Consistently, they talk about the importance of self-determination — making decisions for themselves. Then they tend to talk about maintaining maximum feasible self-sufficiency and wellness. Community participation is important, along with interaction with family and friends. And doing some meaningful work, paid or unpaid, contributes to healthy aging — and to economic security, as needed.
The Positive Aging movement stresses the importance of encouraging older adults to be proactive in support of all of the factors contributing to healthy aging: finding passion and purpose, creative expression, meaningful work, lifelong learning, community recognition and accessibility, physical and mental exercise. The Pass It On Network emphasizes the capacity of older adults to self-organize and help themselves and others find or create what’s needed to thrive. This website has been developed to encourage older adults to care for themselves and each other and their communities.
Here are some unique attributes of the Pass It On Network that fit current global needs of our aging society:
- Asset-based programs complement the needs-based services of current systems
- Older adults doing for themselves save public expenditures in a time when the world is aging and budgets are tight
- All of the programs depend on older adults volunteering to share their strengths
- Spread information worldwide about Positive Aging programs led by older adults who share their strengths to help themselves, each other, and their communities.
- Develop an on-line directory of program guides to encourage program replication around the globe that is adaptive to local language, culture and needs.
- Develop a user-friendly, multi-lingual Internet platform at www.passitonnetwork.org
- Identify leaders of innovative Positive Aging programs around the world who are willing to share detailed program information that will guide adaptive replication, for no charge
- Post information about low-cost Positive Aging programs shown to be successful in achieving one or more of the following goals:
- Developing peer-to-peer and/or intergenerational support networks
- Creating pathways to meaningful work, paid or unpaid
- Expanding opportunities for teaching and learning
- Promoting education and advocacy for Positive Aging (e.g., celebrating role models, advocating for self-determination, encouraging wellness)
- Recruit Country Liaisons as volunteers who will help with translation and encourage: a) current program leaders in their countries to submit program information; and b) prospective leaders to make use of the programs on www.passitonnetwork.org
- Work with scientific researchers to evaluate the efficacy of the Pass It On Network programs and www.passitonnetwork.org and report on the impact they are having.
- Encourage the organic growth of the network by celebrating successful programs and sharing information about the network in a collaborative, open source manner.
- Find ways of self-financing the www.passitonnetwork.org infrastructure (International Coordination, Internet Manager, expenses for travel, etc. for Country Liaisons and Advisors)
Many factors make it vital that we invent how to live this new phase of life beginning at age 50+. So rich in promises and challenges, the second half of life calls for us to be bold, imaginative and caring and to realize that “We are the ones“ who need to self organize and help ourselves, others and our communities.
The statistics are clear: Never in the history of mankind have there been so many 60+ year-old citizens worldwide. We are the only growing age group. Our sheer numbers along with economic turmoil and budget shortfalls make it impossible for nations to scale up existing facilities and services to meet our demands. We need to be very aware that we have to fend for ourselves.
We believe the work of elders is to “pass it on”, to share our know-how with others, to capitalize on what works, to save money and to shape new expectations for lifelong working, learning and sharing.
Proof that we are on the right track came from our involvement with the World Café Europe’s EVAA project (European Voices for Active Aging) funded by the European Commission. Six thematic cafés were organized to coincide with the “2012, the European Year for Active Aging and Solidarity between Generations. They were held in Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, the United Kingdom, and in France in 2012. More than 600 seniors in these countries showed they wanted to carry on playing a positive role in society.
Click here to see the full color report to the European Union.