Boomers in the next decade: Working longer, living better

During the next decade, “advances in genetic research and big data analytics will enable more personalized — and effective — prescriptions” for disease prevention, says USC Leonard Davis Dean Pinchas Cohen.

In a story that appeared on ABC News, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology experts, including Dean Pinchas Cohen, shared their predictions for what advances and challenges in health care, science, and society lie ahead for Baby Boomers in the 2020s.

On the scientific front, Dr. Pinchas Cohen, dean of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California, points to a growing recognition that “we can’t just apply one-size-fits-all guidance for healthy aging.”

During the next 10 years, “advances in genetic research and big data analytics will enable more personalized — and effective — prescriptions” for both prevention and medical treatments, he said.

“My prediction is that the biggest impact of this is going to be felt around predicting dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as biomarker tests [that allow the early identification of people at heightened risk] become more available,” Cohen continued.

Paul Irving, Chair of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and a USC Leonard Davis distinguished scholar in residence, weighed in on how inequality may affect the quality of later life for many Americans:

New therapies spawned by cutting-edge science may be extraordinarily expensive, raising ethical issues. “Will the miracles of bioscience be available to all in the next decade — or only to those with the resources and connections to access special treatment?” asked Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging.

Several experts voiced concern about growing inequality in later life. Its most dramatic manifestation: The rich are living longer, while the poor are dying sooner. And the gap in their life expectancies is widening.

The story was first published in Kaiser Health News and also appeared in Salon, Los Angeles Daily News and Daily Breeze. Photo illustration by Hannah Norman/Kaiser Health News.