The Unifying Generations Initiative
Our Unifying Generations Initiative is a first step in the journey towards changing the perception about the senior population and support intergenerational solidarity. The European population is ageing. By 2040, 155 million people are expected to be over 65.1 Today, for the first time, we see four generations share a longer life span together. This demographic change is often referred to as a challenge, giving a misleadingly negative impression of the contribution of over-65s to the society. We believe that this demographic challenge is, in reality, an opportunity.
In our view, the current debate ignores the considerable benefits that society can gain from an experienced, active and engaged 3rd generation. In fact, this group is a major contributor to cohesion within families and between older and younger generations in the community. As we emerge from COVID-19, which impacted all of us in different ways, we believe that an inclusive society that values the input of all ages and drives solidarity between older and younger generations can help us recover.
Edwards aims to support the senior population, and especially this 3rd generation, to lead on activities and projects which unify generations and create a more inclusive society for all ages.
By changing perceptions about the value of the 3rd generation to society and their essential role as unifiers, we can lead to intergenerational cohesion. In fact, promoting intergenerational solidarity through recognising and celebrating the knowledge, skills, and experiences of older people is at the heart of this programme of work.
Unifying Generations is part of our history but it’s also a commitment to the patients we serve. Intergenerational solidarity is at the heart of the Edwards story. Over 60 years ago, a retired engineer, Lowell Edwards, partnered with, Albert Starr, a young surgeon in his early 30s, to pioneer the first successful heart valve replacement. The power of two generations and two minds with different experiences and perspectives came together.
The Unifying Generations Survey
To provide insights on the role of the senior population in society and the benefits of intergenerational interactions, Edwards Lifesciences conducted a survey into perceptions and experience of intergenerational solidarity of 12,000 citizens across 6 European countries (France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the UK).
For this Initiative, we joined forces with 8 advisory board members from academia and organisations representing senior people to help guide us on our first step of this journey towards Unifying Generations.