Baby Boomers in 2020 will have all hit age 65 (some as old as 85). The amount of seniors in the nation will surpass the amount of children (age 13 and younger). While this doesn’t seem like a problem, some experts believe our nation is not ready for this shift. So what is the big deal about people living longer than their predecessors?
Boomers in 2020 have gotten to the age when they’ll require more medical care. The increased care comes with a increase in labor demands, as well as expanded facilities. Jean Accius of AARP advises, “the cost of long-term care is unaffordable for most families.” A private room at a nursing home can cost upwards of $100,000 annually, while most annual incomes are little more than half of that cost. Furthermore, home health aid is in high demand, without enough aides to fulfill the need. With smaller families and possibly no spouse, seniors can’t be expected to pay for the cost of their care.
Society has made it easier for us to maintain our health and independence as we age. Recent studies have shown that environment and behavior also affect the trajectory of aging. Laura Cartensen of Stanford University claims the conversation is “shifting to the potential to improve quality of life throughout.” The focus of this is mainly on the fraction of adults who are considered obese. Obesity and a lack of physical activity increase the risk of earlier health failure. Boomers in their 60s and 70s still have time to improve their health with light exercise and a modified diet.
Experts suggest we invest more in our social and physical environments to further enhance healthy aging. Modifications they hope to see include but are not limited to:
- Increase transportation availability.
- Modify housing to help seniors stay in their own homes longer
- Bring young and old people together in a positive way.
Loneliness and social isolation are major issues among seniors that need to be addressed by younger generations. Luckily, in the U.S. “age-friendly” communities are increasing in popularity. Along with this will likely come more age-friendly medical systems, to cater to maintaining seniors’ health. Surprisingly, experts suggest technology will become a major necessity for aging adults. Technological assistants such as Alexa perform all kinds of tasks without any effort on the part of the user. The reminders and search assists will help seniors with medications and medical questions, as well as calling their families and doctors for them. Technological tutoring can be a great way to bring young and old people together for a purpose!
Young people are notorious for catching an attitude. But many people don’t consider that elderly people are repeat offenders when it comes to having a negative attitude. To tackle this issue, the World Health Organization is launching a global campaign to fight ageism. In fact, the FrameWorks Institute created a communication toolkit for young and old people to connect. San Francisco is one of the first cities to take advantage of these tools to bring more awareness to intergenerational tension.
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