Staff Development Workshops and the Topic of Aging

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

4 thoughts on “Staff Development Workshops and the Topic of Aging”

  1. This is a topic that I think must have widespread attention and for the very reason of this massively large group who are working – and working productively well beyond the 65 threshold.

    Forward thinking would be for companies to start brainstorming how to accommodate older workers to get the most productivity possible. You know in the world of hockey for example, as a player ages, or in the later stages of a game, the astute coach will shorten the length of time players spend on the ice. They aren’t as fresh, tire easier, make errors in judgement if on too long. The same is true of the more mature worker, but they are still valuable assets to have on the team.

    Perhaps companies will look at simple adjustments that are free or low-cost, like lowering the height of whiteboards, raising the height of electrical plugs in facilitation rooms and work areas. In factories, setting up workers so they don’t stand for prolonged periods, or spend hours hunched over aggravating their backs. Voice recognition technology can speed up communication for those with poor typing and keyboarding, and email may be on the way out in the next 5-8 years and replaced.

    Or, companies can play the game of waiting to see what really happens and scrambling when it hits them which will cause cost overruns and hit production too.

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    1. Kelly,
      I agree the 65+ will demand attention and the services they seek. This is an educated demographic who does not want the typical senior residence or retirement community and rightfully so. They may be retired, semi-retired or still working, but their needs are different than those that are currently 75+. The new trends of aging in place or retirement communities will grow.

      As for companies and employees-employers need to come up with retention strategies as ‘older’ workers need or still want to work and often there are not enough qualified ‘younger’ workers to fill the gaps. – Vikki

  2. This credibility that Adler references could be translated into mentoring in master-apprentice relationships in ways that have virtually been lost in our modern day societal systems of conduct. The older set has all kinds of wisdom to impart to younger generations in the workforce (and in general), and without new systems being devised to support this, a treasure of human potential may be lost forever.

    I encourage anyone who knows they have something of personal or professional value to share with others to get busy recording that information for future generations, whether ultimately for their own families or for the wider population. And who among us does not have some developmental milestones or lessons that younger people may appreciate now or in the future? How did/do we surmount obstacles? What did/do we struggle to overcome? What joys and disappointments made/make our lives the interesting mosaics that we share(d) with our families and our colleagues?

    Thank you for starting this conversation, Vikki. 🙂

    1. Julie,

      What a great analogy! You are right in the apprentice/master or professional relationship. This is how one entered the professions/trades long ago. In certain trades/professions it may be needed again. The ‘older’ generation has a lot of wisdom to share and quite a bit to teach the younger generations. We do not want this wisdom to be lost. Dynamics need to adjust. Certain trades/professions are lacking replacement employees. Also, seniors/older adults have a lot to share when it comes to history and life stories. This is not something we want to be forgotten or lost either. -Vikki

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