The way society views aging is changing, and those working with this population in the future must be aware of these changes.
Rob Romasco, president of the American Association of Retired Persons based in Washington, D.C., gave students in the Family Interaction and Family Resource Management classes an insight into trends in aging and challenges on the horizon for the industry as he visited campus April 3.
“You are going to live in a world that is radically different than the world your parents or grandparents have lived in,” said Romasco. “One generation helps the next generation. It’s important to view people as a continuum, not as an old person but as a person who grows old.”
Romasco noted that students in these classes are among the first generation in recent history who can “reasonably expect to live to 100 years and beyond.”
As a result, the mindset of how to best serve the aging population is changing. The fact that the average life expectancy is getting longer than ever before also has an impact on economic and social organizations as they adjust their programs and services to meet the unique needs caused by this change.
“It is such a rare and exciting opportunity to have someone with Mr. Romasco's perspective and position on our campus, and to have him speak as openly and directly to students as he did is rare indeed,” said John Conger, professor of Family and Consumer Sciences and chair of the department. “Comments from students have been very positive, and they found him extremely engaging. It is important that experts from the field reinforce what we are trying to teach in the classroom.”
Younger generations have an opportunity to prepare for that stage in their lives, Romasco said, by saving, investing and getting to know older people, learning from their experiences and wisdom.
It is important for students to learn more about aging from experts such as Romasco, said Beverly Patnaik, academic director for Lipscomb’s School of TransformAging.
“Having a chance to hear from experts such as Rob Romasco gives students an insight into a broad picture of issues affecting older adults,” she said. “As he engaged the students by asking questions and telling stories, they related his anecdotes to their parents and grandparents. It is important for students to think about older adults as people and not just stereotypes as seen in the media. Mr. Romasco's spending an entire class period with students emphasized the value he and AARP puts on educating younger people about the upside of growing older.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, whose mission is to strengthen communities, create awareness for and advocate for aging issues that matter most to families such as health care, employment security and retirement planning.
Romasco, an advisor to numerous organizations in business strategy, marketing and leadership development, is the current leader and chief national volunteer spokesperson of AARP, one of the largest member organizations in the world. He has also served as senior vice president of QVC Inc., the leading interactive retailer, where he was responsible for customer, distribution and new business development. In addition, he was chief marketing officer of CIGNA, CEO of JCPenny's insurance division and senior vice president of American Century Investments among other leadership positions.