By Joseph F. Coughlin
Who is Joseph Coughlin?: Joseph Coughlin is the founder of the MIT AgeLab, a professor at MIT, and a fellow at the Gerontological Society of America. He was named “one of 12 people shaping the future of retirement” by the Wall Street Journal.
Amava Take: This book is not a self-help book, but anyone who is retired, or thinking about retirement, will get a lot out of it. This book is really about the future of aging. It’s hard to categorize, as it’s part history of retirement, part advice for businesses to better serve consumers, and part philosophical guide to retirement. But don’t let the fact that it covers a lot of ground stop you from reading it. It’s accessible and highly engaging. The chapter on The Pursuit of Happiness is especially relevant with its thought-provoking discussion of the desire for meaningful activities as we age, including paid work, and the lack of the “right jobs.”
Memorable Line: “Imagine if I gave business students a blank slate to imagine products for…teenagers…and the only products they could come up with were acne creams and crutches for when teens injure themselves performing ill-considered stunts. What a colossal failure of imagination that would be! And yet, the way we think about the wants and needs of older people is every bit as blindered.”
What we’d tell our friends: If you are interested in how we got to our current narratives of old age, and how we need to create an environment that better values the contributions of older adults as well as how to do this, you will enjoy this book. Despite the serious topic, Coughlin uses lots of anecdotes and stories to illustrate his points, and he takes complex topics and makes them understandable and even entertaining.