Dychtwald enlightens at E.J. Thomas Forum Series lecture

Written by: Katelyn Freil

Despite the fact that the American population is steadily getting older, U.S. society remains focused on youth.

This was the central focus of Ken Dychtwald’s Forum Series lecture at E.J. Thomas Hall last Thursday, “The Aging of America: How We Must Transform Our Lives, Our Business, Our Communities.”

Dychtwald is a psychologist, gerontologist, entrepreneur and the author of 16 bestselling books, according to agewave.com.

He began by explaining how people throughout history have always sought youth through medicine, herbs and the quest for the Fountain of Youth. He said that people even thought that taking baths with virgins would prolong youth.

Dychtwald showed how the average human lifespan has increased over the years. According to his lecture, two-thirds of the people who have lived past the age of 65 are alive today. He also said that at the beginning of the 20th century, the average human lifespan was between 40 and 50 years. By the end of the century, life expectancy was up to 78 years.

To illustrate the changing lifespans of people all around the world, Dychtwald showed a video of Hans Rosling, a doctor and statistician, who demonstrated the correlation between lifespan and national income in the past 200 years.

“We have become an entirely new, converging world, and I see a clear trend into the future,” Hans said in the video. “With age, trade, green technology and peace, it is fully possible that everyone can make it to the healthy wealthy corner.”

Even with the world attaining longer lifespans, Dychtwald discussed how many products are tailored to young people, like buttons on clothing and the typeface size of newspapers and other print.

“It always amazed me that by the time we are old enough to afford to read the Wall Street Journal, we can’t read it,” Dychtwald said.

He also questioned whether or not America is ready for the older generation by bringing up the health-care system and the lack of schooling geared towards this practice.

“Eighty-five percent of students (in healthcare) will not have taken a class in geriatrics,” he said.

In Dychtwald’s opinion, the best preparation for this age wave is to talk about it.

Dychtwald was the first of ten speakers in E.J. Thomas Hall’s Forum Series, which has been inviting important and influential speakers to the campus every year for the past 18 years.

Restaurant business major Kenneth Lowe liked what he heard is planning on coming back for more.

“It’s cool. I’ve never been to a lecture like this before. I’m coming to all of them,” he said.