Older Adults as Collaborators. Older adults can be part of the solution to many of the grand challenges. Examples include: older adults serve as mentors, coaches, foster grandparents and help to advance the grand challenge on “Ensure healthy development for all youth.” Older adults can serve as mentors and coaches as people transition out of prison or as volunteers in prison to “Promote Smart Decarceration.” Older adults can be recruited as community health workers, given high levels of trust and long histories in their neighborhoods, and help to “Close the Health Gap.”
Productive Activities as Antidote. As some of the grand challenges focus on equity and social involvement for all, productive activities are a recognized way to improve these outcomes for older adults. Examples include civic engagement and employment in later life as pathways to improved social capital and reduced social isolation. Working longer improves economic security for older adults and their families and directly tied to the grand challenge on “Build Financial Capability for All.”
Advancements in Grand Challenges Facilitate Productive Engagement. Finally, older adults are likely to benefit from advances with “Harness Technology for social good” (use of telework, smart devices for health and social engagement). The grand challenge on “Reducing extreme economic inequality” shares theoretical orientations with cumulative inequality, an important concept to productive aging scholarship.
Conclusion and Implications. We conclude with implications for cross-fertilization of Advancing Long, Healthy and Productive Lives with all the other grand challenges; and provide ideas about how gerontological social work scholars can bring these cross-cutting perspectives to their colleagues working on the other grand challenges to build new research teams. We will also share education and research strategies to further this cross-fertilization which include a clearer articulation of a life course perspective and a commitment to intergenerational and multigenerational solutions.