The World Health Organisation estimates that if current trends continue, the number of people over 60 will more than double by 2050! Let’s look at the trajectory of this increase:
The trends are similar in the Western world. These figures are staggering but there is no doubt about it; there will be a tectonic demographic shift. We can view this age transformation as a glass half full rather than half empty. Instead of the stereotype of the weak and dependent senior, the change is already happening as to how seniors are viewed in society, but most importantly, seniors are seeing themselves in a new light.
When we speak about older adults, we are referring to the over 60 age group. This is an arbitrary number that merely delineates a particular stage of life. With life expectancy currently around 80 for most Western countries, it refers to the last quarter of our lives. So what is making this group the new powerhouse?
1. There is power in numbers
In the coming years, the largest demographic will be the over 60 age group. Because of their large numbers, they will wield lots of influence. Many will have to stand up and take notice; politicians, health care practitioners and the superannuation industry.
We can’t overemphasise the changes that have occurred during the last four decades. Those of us who were in private practice in 1970 saw few people in their 80’s, and not that many in their 70’s. The majority died in their 60’s. Today with increasing longevity, the older age group will demand greater attention to serving their needs.
2. Seniors are healthier and more active than ever
Many seniors today are not waiting to die, they are getting on with life. When we cycle or swim, we see many in their 70’s, 80’s and even into their 90’s engaging in physical activity. If we think back to our own parents in their 70’s, gardening was the extent of their physical activity. Some seniors who are not healthy are alive because of medical technology. Others are consuming an exorbitant number of medications while there are many others who are enjoying excellent health.
There is a realisation that healthy eating and exercise are essential to good health. The baby boomer generation wants to live fulfilling lives with the freedom to do what they wish; being healthy is an important part of this. We meet seniors who go hiking in Nepal or cycle in Europe or have joined fitness groups. We know that physical fitness enhances our state of mind and we can do this at any age. Life is an ongoing adventure so we never stop until we die. Most in our age group have time to look after themselves.
3. Seniors are the wealthiest in society
We are told that nearly 80 per cent of retirees are on some form of pension. While that is true, it’s also a fact that those over 60 are the wealthiest age group by net worth. Most have no mortgage at this age, their children have left home and they have enough income to enjoy a reasonable lifestyle.
When we travel it really hits home as to which is the largest age group; it’s baby boomers and retirees. They have enough disposable income to be able to afford cruises and tours in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. We know many who regularly travel, even those on a government pension. Imagine, if the family home is paid off and there is some investment income coming in––even when supplemented with a pension––it gives a retiree a lot of freedom. Our American friends are jealous when they see how senior Australians can afford to travel as much as they do.
4. A new movement
In case you haven’t noticed there has been an explosion in websites, books and articles relating to the older age group. Just a few short years ago we were told that there was no demand for any enterprise related to the senior generation. How wrong those people were.
Blogs and websites advising and inspiring older individuals are flourishing. Many seniors today are looking to lead inspired lives; they are looking for fulfilling things to do. Yes, seniors are on the move, pushing the boundaries and not satisfied to maintain the status quo. In many cases they are taking up leadership positions, not only in politics but in business as well as in their personal connections. Seniors today will not accept being placed in a box. They are breaking free from the shackles of the past.
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