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The Coronavirus Crisis: A Time for Solvers

This Next Avenue Influencer in Aging calls for a new era of solutions

By Ken Dychtwald

(Across caregiving and community, business and intergenerational attitudes, the pandemic and how we respond to it could change us forever. Next Avenue turned to some of our Influencers in Aging, a diverse group of thought leaders, for their insights, counsel and opinions of what could lie ahead — if we choose.)

Scientist in a lab
Credit: Adobe

Like nearly everyone else, I’m finding that this coronavirus has disrupted my family and friends’ lives as well as our views and hopes about the future.

But what’s been swirling in my mind is how so little attention has been given to moonshot-type solutions. I don’t mean solutions such as whether and how to “flatten the curve” (although that’s supercritical). Or which presidential candidate will make us feel more calm, trusting and secure (that’s supercritical, too).

The Coronavirus Pandemic: A Time for Solvers

I’m talking about solutions to the new public challenge that is an aggressive biologic enemy and the people who can find them. The people — such as biologists, geneticists, physicians and artificial intelligence technologists —who can stop this virus in its tracks and relegate it to history.

Remember Jonas Salk’s breakthrough in 1953 with polio? His 21 century equivalents should be supported and encouraged to work in every way possible, and at lightning speed.

Instead, we’ve been shining televised spotlights on countless blamers, forecasters, distracters, communicators and exploiters. This actually seems eerily reflective of who, and what, we have attended to and glorified during the past half century. While our parents were “builders” and “abiders” and our generation has excelled at being “innovators” and communicators,” it’s time to nourish the “solvers” — specifically the bio-scientists.

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As longevity increases and our population’s demographic composition shifts older, COVID-19 could turn out to be a wake-up call to dramatically fund science in the public interest, shifting attention toward solutions —  wherever possible, preventative solutions.

Last year, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget published the alarming fact that while federal spending on Medicare was $4.93 per person per day, only $.28 was invested in medical research per person per day.

It’s time to begin a new era of solutions: SOLVERS NEEDED.

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A virus has emerged that is threatening our lives. It’s time for scientific solvers of every stripe, from every corner of the planet, to do their thing (individually and collectively) ASAP.

If you’re lucky enough to know a solver, cheer them on, wish them well, help them get funding, encourage them and fortify them if they become frustrated.

How Boomers Can Be Solvers

And as for my fellow boomers, here are four ways we can become more solutions-oriented during this time of metamorphosis:

1. Stay home — and do whatever is needed to not spread the virus. Although our generation is known for its rule-breaking feistiness, this is a time to follow the rules as proposed by experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And take exceptionally good care of your immune system — and of everyone’s you love: regular exercise, sufficient sleep, daily meditation and an optimally healthy diet.

2. Think humanity first; we are all connected. Our entire global population is threatened by the same thing. There’s no benefit in being divisive or combative. And let’s try to help ensure that the breakthrough solutions become available to all, not just to Silicon Valley billionaires.

3. Be your best self. We’ve read enough self-help books and listened to enough preachers and gurus to know the basics. This is the time to step up and do the right thing. Even if you’re a bit scared (as we all are), be especially kind, loving, considerate and patient.

4. Reach out and virtually touch someone. There are probably people in your life that are more alone, more scared and more vulnerable than you. So, every day, try to reach out to one or more of them and share some love by phone or text or email. If you need help learning technology like Zoom or FaceTime for video calls, ask someone to teach you. Then, you’ll be able to bring a smile to someone’s face, electronically — and maybe to your own.

Ken Dychtwald is a Next Avenue Influencer in Aging and a psychologist, gerontologist, CEO of Age Wave and author of 17 books, including the recently published "What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life's Third Age." Read More
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