What the ‘Aging in America’ Conference reveals about over 60s…and what our government needs to take notice of 50



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The Aging in America conference was held from 23-27 March and saw over 3,000 attendees head to Chicago to learn about the key issues affecting baby boomers. Although we’re not in America, the US has an ageing population, just like us, and more and more people are starting to take notice.

In a round up of the conference, journalist Richard Eisenberg, detailed what occurred during the 4 days.

One of the most prevalent themes in the sessions at the conference was work. Gregory Merrill, President and CEO of the National Older Worker Career Center, “Older workers are an untapped national resource…[But] our challenge is to help employers understand that and be sure older workers continue to apply for jobs”. Do you agree?

Other topics at the conferences revolved around work for over 50s and a forum called Employing Older Workers Makes Good Business Sense discussed rehiring over 50s. Lori Trawinski, of the AARP Public Policy Institute said, “It’s much more difficult for older, unemployed workers to get rehired. They’re more likely to have worked at one employer for a long time. Many haven’t done resumes or interviews in years and are not familiar with online job-search tools. And many are hurting emotionally”. This is so true and yet, Australian over 50s and 60s who are unemployed and want to work are struggling but it seems we are not be listened to. Could this conference forum open the Australian government’s eyes up?

According to the ABC, more than 200,000 Australians aged over 50 are now on the dole, with the number of older Australians receiving unemployment benefits dramatically increasing in the past four years. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said that forcing older job seekers to undertake 15 hours of an approved activity each week will not help their employment prospects unless emphasis is put on proper training. “A keep-busy program is [not] what they need.

“I couldn’t tell you how many reports I’ve had from older workers, who, when they go to their job service provider, are told ‘no’, then are refused access to training money and the programs.

“They want to retrain because service providers have been more focused on their young people they think they can get into the workforce more easily”, Senator Siewert said.

So how can we get jobs in our 50s and 60s? According to Barbara Hoenig, a consultant on mature workers and workforce development with CVS Health, job applicants need to put more time and effort into their cover letters and resumes because “Your cover letter is your calling card and it’s what we work with at first”. Her tip was to put information in to create a unique resume for the particular job.

But could baby boomer workers put themselves at more of a disadvantage by being stubborn? President and CEO of the boomer research and consulting firm AgeWave, Ken Dychtwald, said at the forum, “[Baby boomers] have an unwillingness to trust authorities; they’re rule breakers; they believe power comes from the self, not from the group; they’re unbelievably motivated and they’re drama queens and kings,” he said. “They complain about everything. Watch what starts to happen in the coming decades when they start to hurt”. Do you think this is true?

There was also a powerful keynote by Jo Ann Jenkins called “Disruptive Aging”. Ms Jenkins challenged the audience to be unapologetic and fearless in fighting for the needs of older adults and called on everyone to work to change the conversation about what it means to get older. Asserting that age is something to look forward to, not fear Jenkins stated that “50 is not the new 30. 50 is the new 50″.

Talk turned to health and Paul Irving, President of the Milken Institute said, we are at an inflection point in ageing, with many opportunities ahead if we are prepared to take advantage of them. He also said that  a ‘one-size-fits-all’ concept of healthy ageing has to change as he and two other panellists discussed healthcare, longevity and diversity in ageing.


Tell us below, what are your main concerns as you age and how do you think they are being addressed by the government?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I don’t know about being drama queens, boomer have managed to work all these years without complaint,there is no work out there for them. I finally got the gist of this wealthy pensioner issue last night on the news. It is a trade off for the Senate, they forget the cut of the CPI rise and just change the assets test so that many wealthy will lose the pension and they save just as much money as a cut to the CPI

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  2. This over 50 problem has been around for many years , started around 90s and has gotten progressively worse . It became noticeable when computers came in, so many older workers were book keepers, used to ledgers that all had to balance, & accounting machines . Debits & Credits were their bread & butter. Soon they were replaced by 18 year olds who could press keys, and do nothing else, accountants balanced the books.

  3. Well as someone who Married had three kids and eight Grandkids and ageing parents and parents in laws to help. Who worked and held on to a house when interest rates went through the roof who never got government assistance. Who spent a lifetime paying private health funds. My Husband and I have contributed and I feel we should not be attacked by unfair changes that keep cutting the ground from underfoot as we age. If you have assets worth Massive amounts of money it could be tapped without selling off.

  4. I take offense at being labelled drama queens and I dont complain about everything. As for job agencies, I have been registered with the one Centrelink told me I have to use for six months now and not once have they given me a lead or any help. But the government keeps giving them money because I am on their books. It’s about time they stopped putting us all in the same basket and while they’re at it, talk is cheap. How many times are we going to hear that it is beneficial to hire an older person, before they realize that we are telling the truth, people in general don’t want to hire us and something needs to be done about the discrimination!!!!!!!

  5. There is no work for them..don’t you think if these people could get a job they would run and take it? People over 50 are losing super, they are living on a pittance that is below the poverty line I seriously don’t know how they manage to survive. $280 a week won’t even cover the rent in Australia. They stereo type us..drama queens my azz

  6. you know why we are being ignored because he thinks we are a burden on this country , we have done our bit but he dosnt want to waste more money on us

  7. I have been a Personal/Executive Assistant for years – Until the Last 6-7 months – I wish these people would stop telling me I don’t know how to write a letter or resume and we should be retrained – I am not a whinging baby boomer and I think the competition in the marketplace is fierce for anyone, any age. Hundreds and hundreds of letters and resumes with 90% no replies yet I have sooo much experience it makes you wonder what they are looking for – could it be that the interviewers are 40 year olds who are looking for eye candy in the office?? Or is it they don’t want to pay for experience??

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    • Bravo! I, too have been an EA/PA/Legal Secretary for over 20 years and have had to endure the same carry on with job agencies despite receiving the highest compliments from my former employers. The staff who interviewed me were half my age and they felt I was “too confident”!!

  8. Are they afraid of the Baby Boomers, is that what the problem is? Maybe by taking away our rights and our money governments feel more in control instead of admitting to themselves that we can shortly act like a King Wave and wash all the collective flotsam away?

  9. Exactly Andrea. What has wealth & being Liberal got to do with this? Maybe someone should create a whole new industry for over 50’s. Create an Aussie product & open all over Australia. Dick Smith would be the man with the ideas & I’m sure he would help. Create our own employment.

  10. I started work as a typist then accounting machines..then kindergarten while kids were small..some study at TAFE ..part time typist on computer. ..you just keep moving on..same with life.

  11. If people want to work and are of able and fit body and mind, why the hell not. At any Age. It would take the oressure off Society in many ways. D

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