In the United States, we all too often tackle challenges in distinct fields separately, but America is experiencing challenges in education and health that could be tackled together in ways that are mutually beneficial and cost-effective. The good news is that one proven model already exists.
The challenges involve several major trends: first, Americans are living longer - with average life expectancy having grown nearly 30 years between 1900 and 2000. That's great news, but it places increased importance on aging well. If older adults age healthfully, those added years could be spent productively and meaningfully without dramatically increased healthcare needs.
Second, those added years constitute a new "third stage of life" - after childhood and middle age but before old age as we know it. Taking advantage of that third stage, and using it in new and constructive ways, offers unique opportunities. If well conceived, those opportunities can enhance civic organizations like schools while also improving aging Americans' health.