Every day, 10,000 people in the United States turn 65. Every. Day. A child born today in the U.S. has a one in three chance of living to age 100. Never in human history have we had so many “old” people on this planet. And the number keeps growing.
Some are beacons of a new era: John Glenn traveled to space at age 77. Jimmy Carter, age 93, is still building houses and raising funds for hurricane relief. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, age 84, sits on the Supreme Court and is about to release a book on fitness. Iris Apfel, the 93 year-old fashion icon, is doing car commercials and launching a line of smart jewelry for Wise Wear. These leaders are ushering in the New Age of Aging. What did you do today?
We can’t all be astronauts, past presidents, justices or fashion icons. The fact is, most of us don’t have enough retirement savings to get us to 80, let alone 100. And after age 65, it’s not easy to find employment. Although aging is not characterized as a disease, we are uncertain about how to manage as our strength declines and our savings dwindle. We fear being excluded from our community and losing control over our lives.
It’s time to rethink your life
By 2030, one in five Minnesotans will be over 65. Elders will be everywhere.
If you’re 53 or older right now, you’ll be one of them. If you’re under 53, in 2030 at least 20% of your co-workers, neighbors and relatives will be age 65 or older. More boomers at the grocery store, more sexagenarians in restaurants and movie theaters, more 80 year-old neighbors. As life expectancy shifts to 100, how do we embrace these extra 30 years in communities full of older people?
The quality of aging will shape this century
Our longevity will impact all areas of society. The World Health Organization is already urging us to think in terms of active aging and recommending we build age-friendly cities adjusting our considerations for urban environments, transportation, housing, civic participation and social inclusion. We need to manage the physical considerations and still take full advantage of the rich history, talents and personality that older people bring to our nation.
Let’s a take a peek at some current innovations. Note that these concepts are strong because they benefit everyone: the aging, students, families… everyone. That’s the litmus test.
- Colleges around the world are finding affordable student housing through “home stays” with senior citizens. The 65+plus crowd is making cheap-to-free housing available in exchange for in-home meal and social support. Coeds need a roof, seniors need a hand, yet the magic is in the intergenerational give-and-take where supportive relationships are built and community is created.
- Granny pods are another innovation offering low cost, independent housing on family grounds. Most people over 65 want to stay independent as long as possible. Accessory dwelling unit concepts combined with IoT medical technology and community services make that dream a cost-effective reality.
- LinkAges is an online/offline social network that connects people of all ages to build healthy communities that go far beyond the doctor’s office. All ages. All talents.
Many feel the longevity economy could drive the U.S. economy, as it’s responsible for $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity.
- What’s your company’s strategy for the New Age of Age?
- How will the average ages of your workforce change?
- What 65+ entrepreneurs can you bring to the table?
- How can you foster dialogue and sharing across generations?
- What mentoring, coaching or volunteer opportunities can you design?
Regardless of your age today, you are co-creating your own future. How would you like to see it play out? Can you picture yourself at 60? Then 80? Then 100?
Imagine a world where aging is an eager and purposeful process. Let's steer into that future together.