Last week I had the fortune to attend a staff development workshop at my work. Richard Adler, who is in the field of aging and technology at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California was in town. He gave a wonderful presentation to a packed room of over 200 people the night before. This time it was to educate the staff and facilitate a discussion on trends in aging.
Technology is a huge piece of this. His message, ‘Never forget the older you are, the more credibility you have.’ He talked about technological innovations for seniors/older adults. According to statistics there will be more individuals in the 65+ demographic than in the under 5 demographic in the future due to all the baby-boomers; those born after WWII. This is around the world and not just in North America. Are we ready? In some ways yes, but in many ways no. Technology has improved tremendously over the years, people live longer and the ‘forced’ retirement age of 65 has increased to 67, but many do not want to retire or financially are not able to.
Businesses/employers need to adjust and realize that many ‘older’ employees will want to lead productive employment/work lives after reaching 65 or 67, many may want to work part-time and in some instances there are no qualified younger workers to fill the gaps. Trade jobs are an area that need more workers or those returning to the workforce to be trained. A university education does not guarantee one a job anymore. More skills are needed, a more well-rounded individual who has volunteered and has other interests in addition to using/being aware of the new technology.
There are some wonderful initiatives in place already and others being established to meet the needs of the 65+. Mr. Adler discussed Sarasota, Florida with the highest concentration of older adults and their response of: The Institute for the Ages. The typical retirement village or residence is not on the minds of the new wave of ‘seniors’ and creative solutions have been created with more needed.
Beacon Hill, MA with: Beacon Hill Village
Paris, France with BabaYaga’s
Older adults are the roots of a community and as one ages, the community should rally to make sure services and professionals are available to assist their residents who are aging. Planning has to happen now, not in 10 or 20 years when those that are currently 65 turn 75 or 85.
I welcome your thoughts and resources on this topic!
Victoria Brewster, MSW