Reimagining Aging: Squaring the Curve

By Kathleen S. Anderson

Does the title of this column make you think an algebra lesson is to follow?

Fear not! I am not gifted in algebra.

But I am passionate and Goodwin House, the organization I lead, is passionate about the concept of squaring the curve of aging for the persons we serve.

Here’s what we mean by the term “squaring the curve” –

  • Delaying and compressing until much later in life the onset and impact of health conditions related to aging. We might think of these conditions as those more likely to be part of our lives at 85 vs 65 years of age.
  • Equipping older adults with information and support to make decisions that maximize their independence, health and life quality.

I find the chart below to be a helpful visual guide to the concept of “squaring the curve”. The line in green titled “Traditional” reflects what has historically, and through the latter part of the 20th century, been the trajectory of aging. It reflects a slow and then accelerating decline in our health conditions. The line in purple titled “21st century” reflects what is more possible today in terms of extending independence, health and life quality further into our later years in life. The teal-colored line titled “Squared” reflects what research and science suggest is more and more possible – squaring the curve and dramatically compressing the onset of conditions related to aging.

At Goodwin House Incorporated, we are humbled and thankful to be among The Mayo Clinic and peers in the field of aging services that are focused on “squaring the curve”. Our goals are clear: to be partners with older adults in seeking the healthiest life for the longest possible time. We are squaring the curve through innovative new programs for older adults that reside in our Life Plan Communities and those that participate in the services we deliver all across Northern Virginia. The latter include Goodwin House at Home and Goodwin House Palliative Care and Hospice. The first of its kind in Virginia and the 16th in the U.S., Goodwin House at Home is a program that makes it possible for active and older adults age 55 and above to age in their homes through affordable, high-quality services.

Our new e-letter and blog, The Good Life, is a strategy to square the curve through education and information. It is a reflection of our organizational value of Leadership and Learning:  to share what we have learned about supporting, honoring and uplifting older adults so others may benefit from our 51 years of providing community living and home-based services to older adults. Through The Good Life,  we seek to deliver information that can help each of us, especially those in our mid and later years, have the highest quality of life for the longest possible time. In this inaugural issue, we feature articles and interviews with experts on financial planning for retirement, nutrition and diet, and balance exercises to prevent falls.

Back to squaring the curve and The Good Life.  Information equips us all to make better decisions about our own daily lives. Your best life is what we’re all about.

Here’s to making the best decisions for you and those you love!

Kathleen S. Anderson

President & CEO