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The Elder-Boom – Welcome To Our New Reality

The Elder-Boom – Welcome To Our New Reality

By Susan Williams

Many people believe that our aging population is due primarily to the large co-hort of baby boomers heading quickly to old age. And yes, this is a significant contributor. But what many people don’t realize is that this is the just the beginning of an elder-boom.

Given our increasing longevity, the generations that follow will also be contributors to this new demographic reality.

So what does this mean to society?

The following video produced by Retro Report does a very good job of highlighting what we can expect – and how retirement as we currently know it will quickly become a thing of the past;

Here are some of the highlights from the video;

  • The “Elder-Boom” is not a trend – it’s actually going to be a whole new way of life. Life spans are increasing, birth rates are going down and by 2050 the global population of people over 65 will more than double
  • People are working longer – in many cases because they want to and in many cases because they have to
  • Although the model of retirement for most workers of the mid-20th century was that it was generously underwritten by government and corporate pensions this is becoming something of the past. Some economists say that we are starting to see the fallout from the changes made in the 1980’s. Changes to pension plans and more reliance on social security for retirement is causing an increased risk for those in middle class where they face a very high risk of being poor in retirement
  • One study projects that 40% of older middle class workers will have incomes below or near the poverty level when they retire. As well, the number of people over the age of 65 filing for bankruptcy has increased 5-fold since 1991. This is a situation that previous generations did not face in retirement. As a result many older people are having to do things differently. For example, there is a rise in the number of nomadic workers
  • As difficult as this may currently be for older people, prospects may be even worse for younger generations. They will face the twin challenges of paying for longer life spans while working jobs with fewer guaranteed benefits. As a result, many people are now expecting to work until they die
  • This means that new types of jobs are going to be necessary to support an aging demographic however there are challenges – the types of jobs available, ageism, low wages and few benefits
  • As well, the need for caregiver support is climbing but these jobs are also often extremely undervalued. Now is the time to invest in this workforce – we have a tremendous opportunity to re-imagine what these jobs are in the future
  • Given that we have added an extra 20 years to our longevity since the 1930’s we also need to transform the workplace to support this change as many people want to stay both engaged and active
  • The idea that 65 is the end of your career or worklife seems ridiculous now both from an economic as well as human and cultural standpoint as people want to contribute for as long as possible
  • Being in your 60’s now presents a whole new stage of life. Similar to the adolescence being defined as a result of a large co-hort of people who were not children nor adults, people in their 60’s who previously were considered retired could be now considered a new stage of our lifecycle
  • Our cultural views of aging is often fear and denial but we need to change this. People growing older is not a crisis, it’s a blessing. We forget that to age is to live.
  • This is now a permanent state of reality so we have to redesign our housing, our infrastructure, our economy, to support people living 20 years longer then our systems were initially designed for

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.