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Top Influencers in Aging: Three of Our Favorites

Nov 01, 2016

Are you familiar with Next Avenue? If you’re not yet, we think you’ll want to be. It’s a news and information site aimed at baby boomers, developed and run by PBS. Each year they produce a list of who they consider to be the top influencers in aging. We’re going to highlight three who we thought were especially interesting. We found them to be inspirational—we hope you will too!


Barbara Beskind

Barbara Beskind landed her dream job at the age of 91. When she was young, she wanted to be a product designer but was told that engineering schools did not accept women. Now she works for a Silicon Valley global design company and she specializes in design for older adults.

She brings a perspective and experience that other designers at her company don’t have. For example, she knows what it’s like to have macular degeneration and she understands the fear that older people have about falling. One product she has developed she calls a trekker. It’s a modified version of a walker which her company is currently developing into a prototype.

“They can’t put themselves in the shoes of the elderly,” Beskind said about younger designers. “People who design for the elderly think they need jeweled pill boxes or pink canes. We need functional equipment.”


Ina Jaffe

Ina Jaffe is a long-time reporter who has created a new focus at National Public Radio to cover issues and stories that are important to older adults. Jaffe loves to report on stories of people reinventing themselves as they age.

Her stories feature older adults’ involvement in everything from politics, relationships, and work, to many other important issues.

She’s also an ongoing contributor on NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon called “1 in 5” where she presents stories important to the 1/5 of the U.S. population who will be over 65 years of age by the year 2030.

Jaffe believes, “Too many in the U.S. see aging as decline, disability and loss. Aging is a gift. It should be celebrated and embraced by young and old together.”

You can listen to Ina on National Public Radio or read her articles here.


Dan Buettner

Dan Buettner is a National Geographic Fellow and multiple New York Times bestselling author. In his research on how people can live longer with good health, Buettner discovered five places in the world—he calls them Blue Zones—where people are the healthiest and live the longest.

Starting with his first bestseller in 2008, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Buettner has now written three bestselling books. All focus on what he’s discovered to be the diet and lifestyle habits that the people in these Blue Zone communities have in common.

When asked what one thing he would change about aging in America, Buettner answered, “Shift more of the $2 trillion we spend annually on sickness and spend it more on keeping people healthy in the first place.”

Dan is featured in a popular TED talk called How to Live to be 100+ where he discusses his findings. In his talk, he shares the nine common diet and lifestyle habits that keep people spry past the age of 100. You can watch that video here.


Next Avenue’s Top 50 Influencers in 2015

These were just three among 50 amazing influencers that Next Avenue named for 2015. You can read about all 50 of them here. Take a look—you’ll see some fascinating people working toward the goal of helping people age well.

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