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How to Find the Best Shoes for Older Adults

Our thanks to Clarissa Rivera of Taos Footwear, for this contribution to our blog.

Finding the right shoes for older adults can be tricky, but doing so can help older adults maintain an active lifestyle which will contribute to better health and a better quality of life.

Whether you decide on a pair of supportive sneakers or comfortable sandals, your best bet is to find a pair that matches your needs and helps you stay active. The wrong shoes, on the other hand, can be uncomfortable, not to mention dangerous, so it’s crucial to find the right pair for the right activity.

Below are a few essential things to remember and look out for when shoe shopping.

 

Feet change

Feet change in shape and size as we get older, which means we can’t wear the same shoes that we wore in our twenties – no matter how much we spent on them, or how much wear they appear to have left in them.

It’s quite normal for your feet to get wider or more swollen as you age. However, we recommend talking to your doctor about any changes you notice, to make sure they are not related to an undiagnosed medical condition.

Get rid of your old shoes

Shoes lose their support and cushioning over time, so replace them when you see wear on the sole, upper, or inside. If your shoes are pinching your toes, then that is a sign of a poor fit, so you should get rid of them to avoid further problems.

Older adults who have less feeling in their feet are in a much more vulnerable position, as they might not feel the pain associated with a poor fit. So, we would suggest changing your shoes every year or 18 months – depending on how much wear they get – just to be on the safe side.

What to wear indoors…

Yes, staying in counts as an activity, so it’s important to prepare your feet for staying indoors too. Walking around barefoot or in just a pair of socks isn’t ideal. Shoes or sturdy slippers should always be worn around the house, as they will not only protect your feet, but they will also help with mobility.

However, slip-on slipper styles and flip flops should be avoided in older age, as it’s extremely easy to step out of them and trip. Flip flops can also cause damage to the toes and toenails, so they should be left to the younger generation.

Choosing the right shoes for the right activity  

The first step to choosing new shoes as an older adult is to be clear about what you want them for. Walking shoes are very different to running shoes, and running shoes are very different to dress shoes, so make sure you tell the salesperson and whoever is helping you what they will be used for.

The second step is to ensure that they are comfortable before you leave the store. If you are looking for walking shoes, go for a walk around the store. The same goes for running shoes. They can be worn in gradually once you get home, but they should fit somewhat comfortably when you first try them on. Here are just a few more things to look out for when shopping…

 

Make sure you are happy with the length, width, and capacity of the shoe, as well as its shape. The salesperson should be able to trace the outline of both of your feet while you are standing; the outline can then be used against the shoes in the store to find the right pair.

 

One foot could be bigger than the other, so always choose a size that fits the larger foot. The smaller foot can then have an insole placed inside the shoe for the perfect fit.

 

The fabric of the shoe is extremely important, too. We recommend choosing a shoe with an upper section made of either soft leather or heavy fabric.

 

The back of the shoe shouldn’t be neglected in your search either, as it should stabilize the ankle and the heel. If possible, the heel should be compressible, low, and broad.

 

The sole is also one of the most important things to consider, as a thick, solid sole is crucial to mobility. Those with Parkinson’s often find that smooth soles help them move more easily. Non-skid soles, found in most sneakers and sports shoes, provide good traction. Silvert’s sells a range of adaptive footwear that could greatly benefit older adults. Shoes with extra depth to help with orthotics, shoes that are adjustable for older adults who suffer with foot swelling, and shoes with anti-slip soles are just a few examples.

 

Pay attention to how the shoe fastens.

Someone who cannot tie their laces may be more comfortable using VELCRO, or a buckle that can be adjusted by hand, foot, or cane. New Balance makes shoes with hook-and-loop closure, as a helpful alternative to laces. Some models are Medicare-approved as diabetic shoes too.

 

Socks are just as important.

Be sure to team your new shoes with a good pair of socks. Choose sweat-wicking socks that are anatomically-shaped, as they can reduce your risk of developing blisters. Your local sports or running store should have a good selection of appropriate socks.

 

As you can see, choosing shoes for older adults might require a little bit of extra thought, but the results of finding the best shoe are more than worth it.

 

What To Expect When Navigating Hospice Care With a Loved One

Photo By: Pixabay

Our thanks to Lucille Rosetti, for this contribution to our blog.

 

When a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the following days, weeks, and months can be scary and overwhelming. How can you make sure your loved one is comfortable? What arrangements need to be made? Hospice care is the next step, but what is it exactly?

According to MedicineNet, hospice care is “Care designed to give supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and focus on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure.” The ultimate goal is for your loved one to live out their remaining time comfortably and pain-free, while also supporting their emotional, social, and spiritual needs. If hospice is the next plan of action for your loved one, here is some helpful information to walk you through the process.

Starting the Hospice Care Process

Starting hospice care is simple – all it takes is a referral. The referral can come from a family member or friend, but typically a healthcare professional makes it. Once the request is made, care typically begins within two days. Keep in mind that eligibility for hospice states that your loved one must have received a life expectancy from a physician of six months or less, and has elected to stop all curative treatment. Terminal illnesses are unpredictable, so rest assured your loved one can continue to receive hospice care long after six months is up as long as their doctor certifies their eligibility.

Each disease and condition carries its own eligibility criteria as well. Although you will receive a referral, you aren’t obligated to use that particular provider. There are many hospice providers, so use this list of essential questions to help you choose the right provider for your loved one.

Getting to Know Your Care Team

Your loved one’s care team will include doctors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, and clergy/counselors. However, the one person you will likely be working with the most is a hospice care social worker. Having completed a Master’s of Social Work program via an accredited online or in-person university and the required 900 to 1,200 hours of field work, you can rest assured that the social worker assigned to your loved one has the background, knowledge, and expertise necessary to walk you, and at times carry you through this process. The social worker can assist you, your loved one, and family members with the following:

 

  • End-of-life planning and documentation
  • Healthcare decisions
  • Point of contact for local agencies and resources
  • Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid paperwork
  • Funeral planning
  • Arrangements/paperwork after your loved one has passed
  • Identifying emotional and spiritual needs of you and your loved ones and finding necessary support
  • Help finding grief counseling

 

Be An Advocate for Holistic Therapy

Hospice care doesn’t involve curative treatment, but pain/symptom management is key. This can be accomplished through medication, but you might also suggest holistic therapy as a complement such as massage therapy, reflexology, reiki, music therapy, guided imagery, meditation, or acupuncture. Unfortunately Medicare doesn’t cover holistic medicine, but it does offer some coverage for a licensed doctor of osteopathic medicine. However, if your loved one has a Medicare Advantage plan, there are additional benefits such as wellness programs and healthier food options, both of which offer a holistic care approach.

Be A Source of Support and Comfort

Whether your loved one is receiving hospice care at home or in a hospice facility or nursing home, you can be a source of support and comfort. Be mindful and respectful of their wishes, and assist in any way they ask you. Spend time together and share memories or create a legacy video. Most importantly, just be there, whether it’s to chat, watch their favorite shows, read a book together, or simply sit.

If hospice is the next step, take a deep breath. The care and support you and your loved one will receive is a bright spot during a difficult time. Rest assured that once you find the hospice provider that best meets your loved one’s needs and criteria, you’ll have a team to guide you every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

The 2019 Guide to Medicare

Our thanks to Danielle Kunkle, for this contribution to our blog.

Though Medicare has been around since 1965, there are changes each year that affect your premiums, copays and deductibles for the next year. Sometimes there are also legislative changes that can impact your benefits. Let’s look at an overview of Medicare for 2019.

Medicare Has 4 Parts

Original Medicare includes Part A hospital benefits and Part B outpatient benefits. You enroll in these two parts via the Social Security office during your Initial Enrollment Period which begins 3 months before your 65th birthday month. Part A covers inpatient hospital, hospice and skilled nursing. Part B covers most other medically necessary services on the outpatient sides, such as doctor visits, lab testing, emergency care, physical therapy, chemotherapy and much more.

In1997, the Balanced Budget Act also created Part C, which is the Medicare Advantage program, which we’ll discuss more below

The most recent part of Medicare is the voluntary prescription drug program that we call Part D. This will help to reduce the cost of your retail prescriptions.

Medicare Doesn’t Cover 100% of your Costs

Although Medicare covers the majority of your healthcare expenses, you are responsible for some cost-sharing. This includes deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. On the outpatient side, Medicare only covers about 80% of your covered procedures, and you are responsible to pay the other 20%. For this reason, most people enroll in additional coverage to help them with their cost-sharing. There are two primary types of supplemental coverage: Medigap Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans.

Medigap plans are also known as Medicare supplements and these plans pay after Medicare. In most states, you can choose from one of 10 standardized Medigap plans. These plans allow you to treat with any Medicare provider nationwide and you don’t have to choose a primary care doctor.

Since Medigap plans don’t include outpatient drug coverage, you would enroll in a standalone Part D drug plan as well.

Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) is optional coverage in which you can get your Medicare Part A and B benefits through a private insurance company that offers a network of providers. These plans often have lower premiums than Medigap plans but you’ll pay copays at the time of service for various medical services.

Between Medicare and the right supplemental coverage, you can rest assured your benefits will cover you well without breaking the bank.

Finding Success as an Older Entrepreneur

Our thanks to Rae Steinbach, from fueledcollective.com, for this contribution to our blog.

Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, much of the 2000s has been dominated by younger entrepreneurs who have changed our personal and business lives in a number of ways. From the rise of social media to the increasing popularity of remote work and coworking spaces, entrepreneurs have had a marked impact on society.  But contrary to how our current youth-oriented culture may seem, one can begin to build a great company at any age.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most common causes of new business failure is a lack of relevant skills and experience. Older entrepreneurs, as you’ll see, are often in a better position than ever to take a chance on the idea they’ve been dreaming about and watch it grow into a successful business.

 

Why Older People Make Successful Entrepreneurs

Seemingly everyone has a million-dollar idea that could change the world, but very few of us are able to navigate the business world and make it a reality. People who have spent more time working and gaining experience are generally able to hold a more realistic view of their goals, expectations, and needs.

Younger entrepreneurs also face difficulties in attempting to build a business while dealing with the financial and personal responsibilities that come with being in your 20s or 30s. Starting later in life means having more time, money, and resources to devote to your business.

 

Creating a Business

No matter how old you are, leaving an existing job for the unknown is a major risk that requires serious consideration. Half of all businesses fail within five years, so it’s crucial to be realistic and impartial when thinking about the costs and benefits of starting your own company.

When you do decide to branch out, you’ll also have to judge how much of your personal money to spend on the project. Unlike those in their 20s and 30s, older entrepreneurs generally don’t have as much time to replenish savings and retirement funds if the venture doesn’t turn out the way they hoped.

If your startup targets millennials or younger demographics, you may benefit from hiring some employees who can provide valuable insight into that market. Understanding how to capitalize on your strengths and find people to support your weakness is crucial to managing any business.

Starting a company is a massive undertaking for anyone, and that’s especially true for older entrepreneurs. That said, the experience and knowledge that come from decades in a business environment often prove even more valuable in a startup context. These strategies will help you build your company from the ground up and put you in a position to reach your goals.

 

 

Making Your Mental Health a Priority After the Loss of Your Spouse

Our thanks to Elmer George, Elderville.org,  for this contribution to our blog: 

A few months ago, my husband’s mom passed away. She had cancer and spent her final days in hospice. I must admit watching my father-in-law deal with the loss has been truly eye-opening. My mother-in-law not only did most of their cooking and cleaning, but managed their finances as well. We’ve been helping my father-in-law work through his grief, while also helping him learn to live on his own. I’ve shown him how to cook some easy recipes, my husband has taken over his finances, and we’ve tried to get additional help here and there to fill in the gaps. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to be doing to help my own parents as they age, and I’d love to share my experiences with others.

The loss of a spouse is a devastating life event. For seniors, many who have been with their partners for decades and decades, it can be an enormous blow to their mental health. Not only do you face crippling sadness, loneliness, and depression, but you have to cope while also handling final arrangements, dealing with life insurance policies and the will, and doing what you can to avoid clashing with family. That’s why it’s vital that you make your mental well-being your #1 priority during this trying time.

Don’t try to speed up your grief

“Numerous research studies have demonstrated spousal bereavement is a major source of life stress that often leaves people vulnerable to later problems, including depression, chronic stress, and reduced life expectancy,” notes Psychology Today.

It is counterproductive to try to convince yourself to get over your grief, or to listen to people who tell you that there should be a time limit on your mourning. While prolonged depression stemming from the loss of a spouse can lead to health problems, attempting to suppress grief can also be incredibly detrimental. Know that you are allowed to feel sad, and never try to speed up your grieving process.

One of the best ways to begin the grieving process is to have a service for your spouse. Whether the service is a funeral or for cremation, this is an important first step. A service honors your spouse, brings family together, begins the healing process, and may bring loved ones the closure they need.

Avoid short-term fixes that can become bad habits

You might think that it’s okay to develop a few bad habits because you’re just getting through the hard times and these new habits aren’t part of your normal lifestyle, just part of the grieving process. But relying on alcohol, smoking, drugs, or overeating to help you cope with your emotional pain is even more dangerous for seniors than for younger people. Alcohol, for example, exacerbates mental health problems like anxiety and depression and is a leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Not only that, but seniors tend to already be on more medications, which can have negative interactions with other substances.

Focus on eating right and exercising

The best thing you can do for your brain is to eat right and exercise. Getting enough physical activity helps our brain produce chemicals that improve our mood. What we put in our bodies is our fuel, and if you feed yourself subpar fuel, you’re going to have poor performance. If you want to help your brain battle depression and anxiety, stick to a healthy diet and be sure to get at least 30-45 minutes of moderate activity per day.

“Research in humans shows that exercise can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones vital to healthy cognition,” says the National Institutes of Health.

Force yourself to be social

When dealing with the loss of a spouse, many seniors tend to self-isolate. But this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. Talking with family and friends is one of the best ways to overcome excessive grief. “The most compassionate self-action you can take is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need,” says Oprah.com. Another way to talk to people about your grief is to join a grief group or seek counseling. These options may be available either locally or online.

There is no magic bullet for dealing with the devastating grief that comes with losing a spouse. But if you make a point to focus on your own mental health, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

About Elderville.org:

Elderville.org is a resource guide for everything related to seniors. We connect our readers to reliable sources on the internet so they don’t have to spend time searching. We have safety tips for daily activities, and resources that range from healthcare to volunteering.

Article & quick links provided by ElderVille: https://elderville.org/

Find your helpful quick links here for Seniors:

Can I Get a Mortgage if I’m Retired?
https://www.creditsesame.com/blog/mortgage/can-i-get-a-mortgage-if-i-m-retired/

A Guide to Downsizing for Seniors and Their Loved Ones
https://www.redfin.com/blog/seniors-guide-to-downsizing

Should You Own or Rent a Home in Retirement?
https://www.fool.com/mortgages/2017/05/04/should-you-own-or-rent-a-home-in-retirement.aspx

Home Modifications Increase Senior Safety
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/home-modifications-increase-senior-safety.htm

How to Save for a Down Payment on a House
https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-save-for-a-down-payment-on-a-house-1289847

7 Home Improvement & Remodeling Ideas That Increase Home Value (And What To Avoid)
https://www.moneycrashers.com/7-home-improvements-to-increase-its-value/

Home Construction & Design Techniques for Child Safety
https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/child-safety-home-design-and-projects/

How to Deter Burglars: Keeping Potential Robbers Away From Your Home
https://www.asecurelife.com/how-to-deter-burglars/

The Business of Aging reports on how older adults are “Hacking Longevity”

Hacking Longevity is the first study to examine how three generations of adults over the age of 50 – Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Silent Generation – are thinking about and planning for longer lives. Until now, the idea of increased longevity has been mostly conceptual and aspirational. Through a rigorous research process, Hacking Longevity examination, provides insights on how brands and organizations can better serve consumers of the longevity economy. The study was conducted in the Fall of 2017 and Winter of 2018 and led by Lori Bitter at The Business of Aging.

The study debuted at AARP’s Living 100 event in Washington DC in April. This timeline illustrates key inflection points in people’s lives as they age, as revealed in the data. To learn more about Hacking Longevity, join us in June at The Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit where we will provide a briefing for attendees.

Hacking Longevity was conducted in partnership with Collaborata, and underwritten by AARP, Wells Fargo Advisors, GreatCall, and Proctor and Gamble Ventures.

Transition & Transformation: Navigating Your Third Act

Join us for interviews with thought leaders on aging and business. Join us on Tuesday March 27, 2018 at the Nikko Hotel in San Francisco California for a full morning dedicated to your life and career, featuring a team of expert guides, authors, and coaches to help you find what’s next. Think of it as a three and a half hour investment in you. Over the next 4 episodes, we’ll talk with Keynote speaker, author of the new book, “Jolt,” Mark Miller, we’ll discuss reinventing your career at midlife with John Tarnoff, of Boomer Reinvention. We’ll be speaking with Sandra Hughes, Sandra Hughes Consulting, about shifting from the BIG job to Your Own Business, and finally, we’ll hear from Rich Eisenberg, managing editor of Next Avenue about The Art of Making it in the Gig Economy. Join me today in welcoming to the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit Podcast, produced by the Business of Aging for What’s Next, Managing Editor of Next Avenue, Where Grown Ups Keep Growing, and host of the Your Next Avenue Podcast, Richard Eisenberg.

Lori to speak at ICAA Conference in Orlando

Lori Bitter will moderate a panel on “The intergenerational imperative” at the ICAA Conference 2017. Bitter and colleagues will dive deeper into the companies, organizations and new initiatives working toward an intergenerational future. This session will explore the latest research, look at the workplace and importance of purpose, and provide a case-study view of successful projects.

Friday, October 13, 3:15 p.m.–4:30 p.m.

To learn more about the conference or to register, visit ICAA. 

The Intergenerational Imperative: Why We’ve Never Needed Each Other More

Written for and published in ICAA Journal  by Lori K. Bitter, MS

Intergenerational. It’s the hot new buzzword in aging though it’s been around for years. It’s also steaming hot at a time when ageism is rampant and headlines report workplace warfare between Boomers and Millennials. To be sure, the unrest is real. Boomers lost jobs during the Great Recession and have struggled to earn again at the same rate. Millennials stayed in their parents’ homes, not earning enough to launch into an independent adult life. Throw family caregiving for loved ones into the mix and a clear pattern of interdependency begins to be clear.

SEISMIC SHIFTS
How did we get here? The current picture starts with increases in longevity. Since 1900 we’ve added 30 additional years of life. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the number of Americans living into their 90s will quadruple between 2010 and 2050,4 while the United Nations projects a 351% increase in the global population of adults 85+ over that same period. Unfortunately, the expectations of roles and life stages are rooted in the 1960s. Contrary to common thought, those 30 additional years aren’t simply tacked onto the end of life. Rather, they are distributed throughout the adult life stages, creating seismic shifts that our culture has yet to catch up with.

“By ‘understanding the real root of what is happening across the generational spectrum,’ we can create approaches that recognize interdependencies plus value and benefit all generations”

Young adulthood, midlife and old age are all being transformed by the addition of these years. Yet the changes continue to be written off as generational stereotypes. Understanding the real root of what is happening across the generational spectrum allows us to recognize it and work with it for the benefit of all generations

We are culturally stuck in the life stage paradigm of the last century. We followed a fairly consistent and predictable life script: 1. Go to School
2. Find a Job 3. Get Married  4. Have Children  5. Work Hard 6. Retire.

A few lucky people had some years of leisure before they died. This model has gone the way of the rotary phone, but the universal mindset has not made the change. Or, as author and gerontologist Barbara Waxman says in The Middlescence Manifesto, “We have a cultural lag. People have a lot of needless dissonance between perception and the reality of how our lives are unfolding.”

Markers of change
Life is messier. The predictable script is gone. Yet there is a discomfort with the idea of not living up to the old ideal. Consider some of these markers of change:

  • Young adults
    Taking longer to enter and finish education
    Waiting longer to marry
    Waiting longer to have children
  • “Middlescents”
    Changing career direction
    Retraining/educating
    Starting businesses
    Taking sabbaticals
  • Older adults
    Working to age 70 and beyond
    Remarrying
    Continuing education

Adulthood at every stage has seen shifts. Rather than using ageist stereotypes to put one generation down to elevate another, or feeling uncomfortable for not fitting an old-school life map, we can embrace this opportunity to create an intergenerational approach that recognizes our inherent interdependencies and values every generation for their contributions.

CHANGING PARADIGMS
Let’s examine some areas in which the shifting maps of adulthood contribute to significant intergenerational issues.

Housing
Housing is one of the industries most impacted by these life stage changes. In the US, more than 50% of Boomers have less than USD$100k saved for retirement, though many view their homes as a significant retirement asset. Most will need to sell the large family home and convert that equity to retirement income. But the demand for these homes may be very small. (This will force many Boomers to look to financial tools such as reverse mortgages.)

Millennials are not purchasing their own homes at the same rates of previous generations. They report the size of their student loans as the major issue in not being able to save for a down payment or qualify for a mortgage. With student-loan debt topping USD$1.4 trillion (and growing), research by Citizens Bank found that 60% of college graduates ages 35 and younger expect to be paying these loans into their 40s. Concern also transcends generational divides. Research conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that 2.8 million borrowers are 60 years or older, parents and grandparents of Millennial students.

The rental market
The dream of home ownership isn’t just an issue for younger generations. In 2016, home ownership in the US reached an historic low. While Millennials are part of the issue, surging Boomer interest in renting can’t be discounted.

A 2015 study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found that families and married couples ages 45–64 accounted for roughly twice the share of renter growth as households under age 35. In urban areas with highly competitive rental markets, it is younger renters who are losing to older renters with greater ability to pay, creating increased need for affordable rental housing.

To manage the cost of living in their homes or high rents, Boomers increasingly choose to live with a roommate. Just like Millennials, Boomers also live with roommates for social reasons. Companies, like Silvernest.com, are emerging to help older adults find roommates and provide a range of services to ensure the success of the match. Some of these matches end up being from multiple generations.

Multigenerational living
Alternatively, there is a growing trend of Boomers remaining in the larger family home and housing multiple generations under the same roof. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the US population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, according to Pew Research Center. For the first time, young adults have replaced elders as the second adult generation in the household.

Three-generation households—grandparents, parents and grandchildren—include more than 27 million people, while about a million people live in households with more than three generations. Another 3.2 million Americans live in grandparent/grandchild homes. Developers have begun to recognize the needs of these households and have created models to accommodate multiple generations. Companies have evolved to create accessory dwellings—nicknamed “granny garages”—to place on properties with existing homes to house family members. And nonprofits, like Fairhill Partners in Cleveland, Ohio, have developed apartments for grandparents raising grandchildren.

The rise in multigenerational living is one reason why fewer Americans live alone now than they did in 1990.

Caregiving
Increased longevity means more generations are now involved in providing care to older loved ones. In the US, the average age of family caregivers is trending younger at 49 years old. Caregiving has also become much more of a family affair. Generation X and the Millennial Generation are stepping into caregiving roles—47% of caregivers are 18–49 years of age. Part of this shift is due to their availability to provide care due to unemployment or underemployment.

The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP report that 20% of caregivers are over age 65. There are also 1.4 million (and this estimate is low) children ages 8–18 who take care of a parent, grandparent or other elder, according to the American Association of Caregiving Youth. These hidden caregivers miss school, have little normal social life, and no support network as they navigate caring for the adults in their lives.

A looming crisis?
Cultural shifts have also led to changes in family structures and stability. Divorced and remarried at “unprecedented levels” in their younger years, Boomers have largely been responsible for the doubling of divorce rates in the 50-and-older age group since 1990. Their families are also typically smaller (fewer than two children). So what will caregiver support look like in the future?

In 2010, the ratio of available caregivers to people requiring care was 7:1. This number will continue to fall, to 4:1, as America’s Boomers push over the 80-year-old threshold in 2030. Between 2030 and 2040, the 80+ population will increase 44% while the number of caregivers increases by only 10%. The ratio completely bottoms out to less than 3:1 in 2040, when the Boomers are in old, old age. (In fact, caregiver support ratios will tumble in many countries worldwide.) Additionally, the higher percentage of unmarried Boomers and Boomers without children will require new kinds of support systems not dependent on family caregivers.

Technology is emerging to address some aspects of care. There is still a growing gap, however, in the number of jobs that will be created as a result of aging, and the number of people available to fill those roles.

Aging workforce
Who will work in aging? At some point in the 1980s, vocational education began to disappear from high schools, and the expectation grew that the majority of graduates would go to college. The tide is turning. But it’s not turning fast enough to create the healthcare and technology workforce required for the aging Boomers.

Emerging models aim to address the need for this workforce, with a focus on bridging the generational divide. Connect The Ages is a social enterprise on a mission to connect 5 million students to careers in aging by 2025. The time is certainly right to bridge the potential of Millennials and Generation Z to the aging population.

“Most students aren’t aware jobs in aging even exist, let alone future-proof, interdisciplinary jobs with room for advancement,” says 28-year-old Connect The Ages Founder and AARP Innovation Fellow Amanda Cavaleri. “We want to help educators introduce careers in aging to students by first bridging generational divides. Through our grassroots campaigns, students experience the often unknown positive side of aging and have opportunities to explore this impactful, purposeful work.”

Connect The Ages has released interviews with dozens of Millennials in aging, including architects, entrepreneurs, healthcare workers, lawyers, policymakers and technologists. Complementing the interviews is a national grassroots outreach and intergenerational storytelling and mentorship campaign. Many of the Millennials who work in aging report finding the field entirely by chance. This is not a sustainable way to meet the industry’s needs. Connect the Ages wants to create an active strategy to engage more young people in the field.

THE IMPERATIVE
We are just scratching the surface of understanding the interconnectedness of the generations and the need to work together toward solving the issues ahead of us. The imperative for our organizations, and our industry, is to discover, support and create initiatives that work toward a better-connected intergenerational future that will advance the aging field with young people and benefit everyone. We’ve never needed each other more.

References

1. National Institute on Aging and World Health Organization. (2011). Global Health and Aging. Living Longer, pp. 6–8. NIH Publication no. 11-7737. Retrieved on June 25, 2017, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/publication/global-health-and-aging/living-longer.

2. Waxman, B. (2016). The Middlesence Manifesto: Igniting the Passion of Midlife. Kentfield, CA: The Middlescence Factor.

3. Data 360. Life Expectancy Studies, 2016. Available at http://www.data360.org.

4. He, W., & Muenchrath, M. N., US Census Bureau. (2011). American Community Survey Reports, ACS-17, 90+ in the United States: 2006–2008, p. 2. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Retrieved on June 25, 2017, from https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2011/acs/acs-17.pdf.

5. Collinson, C. (2016). Perspectives on Retirement: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. 17th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers. P. 70. Los Angeles, CA: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Retrieved on June 26, 2017, from https://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirement-survey-of-workers/tcrs2016_sr_perspectives_on_retirement_baby_boomers_genx_millennials.pdf.

6. Federal Reserve Board. (2017, June 7). Consumer Credit – G.19. Accessed June 27, 2017, from https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/current/default.htm.

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13. Stepler, R. (2017). FactTank News in the Numbers. Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America’s 50+ population. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/09/led-by-baby-boomers-divorce-rates-climb-for-americas-50-population.

14. Redfoot, D., Feinberg, L., & Houser, A. (2013). The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Narrowing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers. INSIGHT on the Issues, 85. Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute. Retrieved on June 27, 2017, from http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/public_policy_institute/ltc/2013/baby-boom-and-the-growing-care-gap-insight-AARP-ppi-ltc.pdf.

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