Young Seniors Need to Boomer Up!
The Baby Boomer generation, of which I am a member, has already accounted for significant changes in our society. Boomers attended college and increased the need for more schools. Boomers joined the workforce and created new jobs and careers. Boomers bought homes and stimulated the housing market. Now Boomers are turning into “young Seniors” who will want and need services in different ways from how our parents did.
In 2011 the first year of Boomers will be turning 65. Recent U.S. Census data show the over 65 population to be almost 38 million strong (about 13% of all Americans) and increasing rapidly. By the time all of the Boomers reach that special age, the expectation is that seniors will number 88.5 million or 20% of the total. So it’s no wonder that it’s the fastest growing segment of the population. In just one year, 2006-07, the senior growth rate was 34% higher than the year before.
But what does all of this mean for our country and our community? First it means that we need to assess how the needs of the new generation of seniors will change. Certainly the number of individuals requiring services will increase. But will the types of services and the willingness to use them also change with the Boomers?
Just as Monterey County mirrors the national trends for growth of the older population, a recent needs assessment by the Monterey County Area Agency on Aging found the same issues to be of prime importance to seniors locally as have been reported in national surveys. Three of the top recommendations from that are development of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy for long-term care, provision of adequate transportation so older Americans can retain their mobility, and improvement of health care programs for seniors (Medicare and Medicaid/MediCal).
Now our communities and we Boomers need to prepare for “Seniorhood” and all of the ways it’s going to be different. According to the Harvard University School of Public Health, “boomers will soon have the opportunity to redefine the meaning and purpose of the older years” and “the potential to become a social resource of unprecedented proportions by actively participating in the life of their communities.” We cannot afford to wait until half of the Boomers are 65. The key has got to be an approach that plans ahead starting with each individual person.
Bob Petty, PhD
Medicare/Social Security Adviser
Partners For Transitions, LLC