May is Older Americans Month
President John F. Kennedy founded older Americans Month in 1963. At that time the US had roughly 17 million Americans aged 65 or older. A lot has changed since then. Not only do we have more seniors than ever before but also we have major generational differences in their longevity, lifestyles, attitudes and expectations. Here are some of the key influences driving the way older Americans choose to live their lives now.
Cheap Travel and Air-conditioning
Affordable central air-conditioning was only just becoming common in 1963. Now it’s everywhere and it’s opening up better living opportunities in the southern and western US. Because of air-conditioning, places like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Florida have become retirement havens. Cooler climates are hard on older bones and bodies and therefore older Americans flocked to warmer places to live.
Cheap travel sealed the deal. Because of that, aging parents could fly ‘back up’ to see their kids and grandkids quickly and easily. In doing so our society became more fluid. “Snow birds”, as they are called in the south, could even keep their original home in Chicago and still afford their winter home in Sun City.
Healthcare and The Six Million Dollar Man
People are living longer than ever. Not only that, but with the advent of 3-D tissue and kidney printing, joint replacements, and neuroplasticity the average senior is something of a cyborg. Older Americans have hip and knee replacements, hearing aides, eye lens replacements (with built-in improvements) and dentures. A computer technician in Germany can now wirelessly adjust Pacemakers and insulin ports worn here. Furthermore, changes and improvements in technology will only increase more quickly in the next century.
Generational Orientation and Expectations
America has changed. The Information Age has changed how we learn, socialize and interact. As the Baby Boomer generation gradually becomes the dominant senior demographic, it will also carry forward it’s “Me” generation and outlook. “Boomers” as they view themselves are forever young, driven and optimistic. They are mobile, active and even athletic and expect their communities, travels and living situations to support that. A renewed focus on one’s personal responsibility for their own health and wellness is changing conventional medicine probably forever – and for the good. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has been hugely influential in literally ‘re-branding’ aging in America.
In closing, as we reflect on Older Americans Month, remember that most of us can benefit from spending time with our older friends, mentors and family members. As they seek to redefine aging in America they have a lot to teach us. If we watch, listen and support them on their journey we all benefit. We will all be there ourselves, one day.
Original article written by Lisa Cini and published in RetirementHomes.com. Edited with permission for posting by Jean Widner of the BestLivingTech.com Team.