Aging Into New Roles With Bill Kole

A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

Getting old is a fascinating thing. The older you get, the older you want to get!

~ Keith Richards


Aging in Place

Bill Kole is aging . . .

His come to Jesus moment came (as has been the case for many of us) with the arrival of his AARP card in the mail. With his newly acquired identity as “an older adult,” he made the decision to investigate this thing called “aging. “The late Stephen Covey once noted, what’s most personal is most important, and what’s more important than the amount of time left to live and what to do with it!

Bill did his research and interviewed heavy hitters such as Jane Goodall for some answers. After years of work, interviews, including his own long-lived relatives–grandmother who lived to 104 and his mother, who at 92 ended up going viral on TiKTok–Bill now earned the burden of insight into what aging means for the individual and society. His mission was clear, to share it with as many people as possible so they too can have a richer experience of growing older and living fully within one’s age.

I became aware of Bill Kole when listening to him being interviewed on NPR’s On Point show hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti. The interview was a delight to listen to–a true “driveway moment” as I couldn’t exit my car until the end. The chemistry between Bill and Meghna was enchanting, her questions were penetrating, insightful, and designed to reward the listener with meaningful insights; Bill did not disappoint.

For those of us in the business of gerontology, the information was as comprehensive as it can be on a short interview platform. He hit the high points and did so in a way the listener could understand and relate to.

If you didn’t get the opportunity to hear it, I encourage you to do so. I will provide the high point themes here, however the exchange between Host and Guest is a synergy worth your time. I also encourage you to pick up his book The Big 100.

The Big 100 Themes

The Demographic Transition (life expectancy increases)

Primary Aging v. Secondary Aging (role of genetics in “Super Agers”)

Longevity Factors (Attitude, Resilience, Stress Coping, Genes, Diet, Life Span v. Health Span)

Society’s Challenges (Funding the New Age Wave)

Declining Longevity in Some Cohorts (“Death of Despair”)

Social Role in Aging (Isolation as the new Smoking)

Climate Change and Longevity (Can’t grow Old in an environment that doesn’t support life)

Gerontocracy (Aging leaders)

The Built Environment (Accessibility for an aging population)

Toxic Stress (ETOH and other factors influencing aging)

Community and Faith (Spiritual aspects of Aging well)

Aged by Culture (Ageism in society)

Genes Role (Oldest old get there by genetics)

Political Influences on Aging (Dem v. Rep)

Cognitive Aspects (ALZ and who does or doesn’t manifest symptoms)

Longevity Factors (Male v. Female, Class, Race, Economics)

How Nations differ in Longevity strategies and outcomes (Japan v. America for example)

GeroTech (Increasing role of Tech in Aging)

And more, these are just a few. The book is a comprehensive look at the topic without being too academic or preachy.

A couple of Nuggets I learned

  • The Blue Zones spends little time on the role of genetics
  • The longevity pioneers (Boomers) will unwittingly commit social suicide by out living their cohorts–but this will get better with age as more live of advanced ages
  • There is actually a positive with the aging population on the economy


If you want a BIG opportunity, find a BIG problem; Bill Kole has ventured into both by tackling the Titanic topic of Aging. And I use the metaphor of a ship headed for an iceberg mindfully–but this time the outcome can be different. We all must learn how to be old in a new way.



William J. Kole, journalist. Author of “The Big 100: The New World of Super-Aging” with Meghna Chakrabarti Host, On Point

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