CogniFit's Science blog: Disabling The Time Bomb

Disabling The Time Bomb

In most of the Western societies, a silent time bomb is developing and threatening to destroy the living standards its populations have been used to for some decades already. There is nothing new about this statement; the trend that is taking us to the generational unbalance has started long ago. While the bomb isn’t yet fully visible, all the signs indicate that it is more powerful than initially imagined, and it is probably the biggest challenge our children will face during their lives.

In the most developed societies in the world, the last baby boom occurred soon after the World War II. It was essential in several ways: not only did the new generation bring a new hope for lasting peace, but it also brought the pillars of the social security systems developed in many countries. The generational “generosity” was such that the group of the working population was big and strong enough to support a relatively small retired population. This has worked fine for a while.

We’re now past those times. As the first baby boomers reached their retiring age, and many are already in the last phase of their working lives, several questions arise. The aging workforce is posing a real challenge to productivity, reducing the prosperity forecasts. The generational unbalance is not an issue that will be easily solved, nor will any solution be achieved quickly enough. But the whole paradigm we’ve been used to see during the last decades is due to change dramatically, and it can indeed be achieved on the positive side.

The focus for the solutions is being put on the wrong table. An aging population isn’t a burden or a disadvantage. The older adults provide experience, knowledge, fairness, something that only time can develop.  While it is true that cognitive decline is a natural effect of aging, the neuroplasticity research has proven already that each person is able to rewire its brain to think faster and be more successful, with the right training. So the question is: why should an aging population, if cognitively fit, be any burden for a society?

A new paradigm can be developed from within, providing the tools and training for the older adults to stay healthy, alert, productive, and able to make their own choices on what to do with their time, for a longer time. Maybe we’ll soon come to the conclusion, that the time bomb is just a reflection of the past beliefs.