I've heard Ken Dychtwald speak several times, and I read his book, Age Wave, when it came out. For three decades, Ken has been studying, speaking, and writing about the impact of an aging population, and particularly the aging Baby Boomers.
Ken was the opening keynote speaker on Monday morning at the NAHC annual meeting in Denver. His message was more relevant and his presentation more powerful than ever before. Using stories, pictures, facts and data, he painted a clear picture of the power of the aging population and the impact it will have on all of our lives. He also created a clear focus for the influence of home health care on the healthcare system of the future.
Ken described for us "Four Powerful Engines of Change," and how these four engines will affect our future. Here are his four points, and some words of wisdom I heard in his presentation.
1. The Longevity Revolution.
"Two thirds of all people in the history of the world who have lived past age 65 are still alive today." Wow!
"With live expectancy going up 2 1/2 years each decade, the probably of people living to 85 or 105 will be commonplace."
2. From Baby Boom to Age Wave
"Demography is De$tiny." Using graphics showing the increase in the number of people in each age cohort over time, we could see clearly the proverbial "pig in the python" of the baby boomers moving through the decades.
Seeing this group of boomers coming through time, we could predict many of the things that we are experiencing in our country today. For example, When the 76 million kids born between 1946 and 1964 were groing up, why were school districts surprised when they arrived in overcrowded schools. They had 13 years to prepare for it.
Why are we so surprised that our healthcare system is overtaxed. We've had decades to prepare for it. I like what he said about the critics of our healthcare system.
"We wait for the elephant to pass, and then we shoot it in the butt with arrows. We should be digging a pit ahead of it and trapping it."
3. Transforming Adulthood.
Ken played a video clip of Billy Crystal in the movie "City Slickers" describing life. Then he described "The Linear Life Plan." Learn - Love - Work - Relax - Die.
Because of that linear plan, with work ending at age 65 and relaxation starting then, we find that longevity is the extension of old age.
In the "Cyclic Life Plan" of the future, people will learn, work, relax, learn some more, work in a different role, play differently, go back to school, work in a new calling.
He gave us Webster's definition of "retire": To diappear, to do away, to withdraw.
His new definition of "Retire": To be connected, to re-invent, freedom.
4. Searching for the Fountain of Health
This section was most powerful as he talked about the shift from acute illness to chronic disease and the impact on our health care system.
"The future of healthcare is NOT the hospital."
The future is home and community based care. We're seeing this already with the explosive growth of self-pay non-medical home care. Boomers are very clear that they fear going into a nursing home three times more than they fear dieing.
Ken's Solutions for the future of Healthcare:
1. No more political Band Aids
2. Mandate "Geriatric Competency"
3. Preventive Science
4. Re-orient to focus on the contiuum of care
5. Palliative care for end of life.
Were you there for Ken's presentation? What do you think? Give us your comments below.