Depending upon who you ask, the baby boomer generation ranges between 70-77 million folks born between 1946 and 1964. Senior citizens populating this group have many common beliefs and shared experiences over the years including politics, music, hobbies, life challenges, world events, and a focus on how we want to and expect to live. And the size and influence of our generation is something that cannot be ignored.
As baby boomers begin to move into retirement, the impact will be felt widely from jobs to resource requirements to health care to retirement communities. Fortunately for us all, the world has taken notice and positive things are in the works to support the wants and unique needs of senior citizens.
Positives for Retirees
Acceptance – as 75 million baby boomers move into senior citizen status and begin to retire, getting old is not so bad any more. The world’s obsession with youth, especially in advertising, is changing with the positive realization that youthful living can be experienced at all ages. From the Poughkeepsie Journal, 93-year-old Fran Avirgan is just one example of an active senior. She volunteers at the library, acts as treasurer of the Rhinebeck Farmers Market, remains politically involved, attends a knitting class that makes afghans for a homeless shelter, plays mah jongg with friends each week, cooks, bakes and reads in her spare time. No moss growing on this senior!
In 2008, a Gallup poll covering 340,000 people between 18 and 85 found that “by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older, and researchers are not sure why.” And Madison Avenue is well aware of this as they re-tailor ad campaigns to address the growing senior citizen segment along with their wallets. The good news for retiring seniors is that as we assume a larger proportion of the population, we experience commensurate power to impact politics and products and the future. Never known for being quiet, the baby boomers will continue to speak their mind and get involved in society at all levels. Senior citizens will continue to be a force to be dealt with and the rest of the world knows it. Love us or leave us but at your own risk.
Medical advances – science continues to amaze us as it pieces together puzzles that have eluded solving for decades. The average life expectancy in 1940 was 63 while today that number has grown to just over 78 years. Cancers like Hodgkin Disease that forty years would have been a death sentence are now curable with the right combinations of treatment. Prescriptions are readily available to control cholesterol, battle high blood pressure, assist in managing diabetes, help in the boudoir (just heed the four-hour warning), and a host of others all adding to the quality and longevity of our lives. Although many diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other age related maladies are yet to be cured, efforts continue across the world on all fronts and progress is being made. Positive medical advances will continue and everyone will benefit.
Focus on the elderly – senior citizens have special requirements if they are to fully enjoy the world around them. Positive improvements are happening on many fronts.
- Travel – tour groups which focus on senior citizens are available to meet you at the airport upon arrival and take care of all your needs. Guided tours are paced for older walkers with breaks and refreshments along the way. All transportation and connection details are addressed and when you return at the end of the day, a quality dining experience awaits. Cruises similarly cater to seniors with events on ship and entertainment fitting their likes.
- Exercise classes specifically for senior citizens to work on areas most important to maintaining their health and quality of life are regularly on the schedule at most spas and fitness centers these days.
- Universal design guidelines help to create a living environment for senior citizens to stay in their homes as long as possible. With a little attention to details such as the height of counters, access to electrical outlets, safety in the bathroom, and other architectural planning, seniors increasingly have the chance to retire in place.
- Lifelong learning opportunities for senior citizens are increasing, offering the chance to return to school either to complete that degree we never quite finished or to pursue that special interest that the job always prevented us from following. Learning keeps our minds active and makes our conversation that much more interesting so everyone wins!
- Even the internet and new social media tools offer an easy way to reconnect with old friends or communicate with family. No surprise to those currently on-line, a recent study found a 100% increase in social networking usage for those over 65 from April 2009 to May 2010, all the way up to 26%. The current batch of senior citizens is pretty computer savvy so more and more are taking the time to stay in touch.
It is not all positive news for senior citizens as our knees will still ache and spicy food will still be a threat to a good night sleep and anything less than a dollar is not worthy of bending over to pick up. But I believe that the direction of the world is good news. Seniors have a significant role to play and everyone wants us in the game. So step up!
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