The nice thing about growing older with such a large generation is there’s plenty of company. Whether in supermarkets, restaurants, fitness centers or recreation venues, it usually isn’t hard to find others nearby in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.
In fact, there are now more people over age 60 than under age 15.1 So, you could say youth no longer rules.
However, this aging shift has yet to really transform the way we live. It needs to, and it will eventually, but for now, there are some growing pains. Traditions from the past, such as retiring in the early 60s, just may not make sense for the masses anymore. For one thing, we’re living longer. That means we either need to save more throughout our career to provide for a longer retirement, or we need to work longer so retirement isn’t so long.
Regular reassessments of health and long-term medical needs is also a must. Health care expenses and the number of aging Americans are increasing at the same time, which creates a need to deliver more care, to more people, and make treatment sustainably affordable.
Some may also need to re-evaluate where they live. In the mid-20th century, the suburbs grew to accommodate the rising number of young families. But suburbs rely on cars, and at a certain point, the older population will need more transportation options. We may need to create more urban spaces for mass housing that can accommodate elder needs, family compounds to house extended family members, or small, walkable villages devoted to elderly living.
We have a lot of needs that will require a shift in thinking that affects every aspect of society, including our institutions, economy, legislative policies, Social Security, Medicare and communities — which were all designed for an aging paradigm that no longer exists.
The American population has grown older — and will continue still. When you consider some of the possible changes that will bring about, it’s an exciting time to be alive.
1 BoomingEncore.com. May 15, 2017. “The Demographics of Aging – What Does This Really Mean?” http://www.boomingencore.com/meaning-aging-demographics/. Accessed Oct. 9, 2017.