Change is in the air. Baby boomers are making a difference because of their sheer numbers. There are a billion people aged 60 and over, constituting 13% of the world’s population. This statistic is likely to surpass two billion by 2048. These numbers matter and all sorts of implications including health care, consumer spending and housing will need to be addressed in the future.
Both public policy and support services, especially in regards to technology for allowing the elder to age in place, need to be addressed. Also, advertisers must shift their marketing strategy when it comes to the baby boomer. AARP found that those over fifty years old represent 46% of our population but are only pictured in advertising 15 % of the time. This is surprising, given that in the United States those over fifty years old account for $7.6 trillion in direct consumer spending or 56% of total consumption.
Not all baby boomers are retired and playing golf in Florida! Many baby boomers are still gainfully employed and looking for more engagement, growth experiences and mentoring opportunities. Baby boomers are stretching the envelope. One company, Nike, is advertising an eighty-six-year-old in her 46th triathlon! Sister Buder has been nicknamed the “Iron Nun,” given her vitality as well as determination to age with both mind and muscle intact. Nike’s slogan “Just do it” is advice that tempts us all to follow the strides the company is taking to represent the best of us. We want to increase our life span, if only our health span keeps pace.
With change comes examination and the need for re-examining ourself and how we are viewed by others. Forums with participants over 65 years old have made it clear that they find ageism unacceptable and do not like being referred to as senior citizens; one label doesn’t fit all.
In more recent years we have heard what has become a slogan: it takes a village to raise a child.
Given the fact that while the birth rate has fallen, but the life expectancy rate has risen, we need to edit our slogan to include that it takes a community to raise our modern elders. We benefit from elders’ ideas, spending power, experience and mentoring skills.
About the Authors
Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, along with her husband, Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life. You can learn more at: www.joyinaging.com