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The Demographics of Aging – What Does This Really Mean?

The Demographics of Aging – What Does This Really Mean?

We have all heard the cries – the aging demographic, the silver tsunami, the graying of America.

But what does this really mean?

We know that changes will have to be made in society to support this new reality but exactly what needs to change?

The following video entitled The Big Idea in 4 Minutes РComing of Age In Aging America does an excellent job of capturing what some of the challenges are and what is required in order to move forward in this new world of an aging population;

Here are some of the highlights from the video;

    • There are now larger proportions of people over the age of 60 than under the age of 15. This is not just happening in America – it’s happening globally
    • Aging is not just about the baby boomers. Baby boomers are only an introduction to the permanent shift in aging that will eventually become a permanent state
    • This aging shift will transform society. How long we work, how we live, how we organize our families and medical care as well as impact our economic and political lives
    • As an example, right now about 50% of people live in the suburbs and approximately 75% of older Americans live there too. But the suburbs were designed in the 1950’s for young families and cars were the main source of transportation. This mobility situation will need to be dealt with as the population ages
    • The thinking moving forward needs to follow an old rule of thumb “if a community works for kids and elderly, it will work for everyone”
    • Another example of what will need to shift is our views on retirement age. The age of 65 was set back in 1935 however life expectancy at that time was 62 years old. Today we can expect to live about 15 years beyond the traditional age of retirement.

So here’s the challenge:

Demographically, the world we now live in and the people we have become is much different than the world we lived in 50 years ago. However our institutions, economies, policies, social security, medicare and communities were all designed for who we were back then.

So, facing this enormous challenge it’s easy to be concerned and worried. The world we currently live in is not the one we need moving forward.

But the question asked is “Why is there an assumption that there is no upside in this situation?”.

In one word: CHANGE

Change requires effort. But if we begin by envisioning new models of living and new ways of being – who knows – we could create a world that could actually be better for everyone than it was before.

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