Just as the older population isn’t a huge group of like-minded individuals, growing old does not mean that a person becomes inactive, forgetful, or sick. In fact, there is much evidence to suggest that the opposite is true. Continue reading
It is true that there will be more and more persons growing old. But one thing is for sure—they will not be doing it in the same way! Already, we are seeing how older people are different from each other. Despite what TV images might have us believe, we cannot assume what 65, 75, or 105 year olds look like, enjoy doing, or how they live. Continue reading
Have you ever noticed that the number of commercials or ads in the media targeted to older folks is really growing? Take a look at current political issues; why are Medicare and Social Security seeing such popularity among politicians lately? One major reason for these things is the rapidly growing portion of our population that is, or will be soon, old.
Too many to be ignored
The fastest growing segment of the United States population is adults over age 65. And within this group, numbers of people over age 85 are growing even faster! In 2003, there were 35.9 million people aged 65 years or older. This represents 12.3% of the entire population for that year, or about one out of every eight people. But in 2010, something will begin to happen, and quickly: the Baby Boomers will begin to turn 65. This will result in a very significant increase in the numbers of older people. By 2030, experts say that there will be around 70 million older adults! This will make up 20% of our population! That means that approximately one out of every five people that you meet will be an older person.
What will it mean for everyone?
What will this mean for programs like social security, or the number of workers to support retirees, or the number of people using the medical system?
This rapid growth will have dramatic effects on our society. Think about families, and how they are changing. How many people do you know who do not have children, or any family to care for them if they ever need it? Do the streetlights in your community give older people enough time to cross the road? What if there were twice as many trying to cross, how will the neighborhoods adapt?
There are some people out there who believe these effects will be negative, but many others believe that our society will carve out new roles and opportunities for older Americans, and will find ways to tap the valuable resources that these persons possess.
This series of blog posts is meant to get you thinking about aging, truths about aging, and the changes in demographics of the aging population. I’ll also be discussing some basic information about myths and realities of aging.
Thinking Back and What is your idea of “old” today?
Think back for a moment to when you were 20. What did you think “old” looked like back then? Now think back to your 30s and 40s. How did your picture of “old” change then? What is your idea of “old” today? Is there a difference between how you think of other people’s aging, and your own aging?
When Are You Old?
It has been said that people think of being “old” as ten years older than their current age. When do you consider yourself or other people as being old? Our society is filled with stereotypes, and misconceptions about aging and older people. Widespread images about what older people look like, act like, and do everyday demonstrate a lack of understanding about aging, and what it looks like in reality. This module will provide basic information about myths and realities of aging. Understanding these key concepts is important for persons working with or helping older adults in the community.
The Three Truths about Aging
The world of aging is wide; there are biologists, environmentalists, doctors, lawyers, bankers, business people, politicians, and many others working toward the common goal of making life longer, easier, or better for older adults. As someone in the community who has expressed a desire to work towards this goal, there are three basic truths about aging that are important, no matter how you work with elders. These include:
- The Population Shift
- The Diversity of Older People
- Old Age Does Not Equal Decline
These truths are very related to each other, and are a broad representation of aging in the United States. While there are many ways to view aging, they provide the groundwork for thinking about how to navigate the wonderful world of aging. Over the coming weeks, we’ll explore these truths in greater depth.