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Ageism is prejudice against your future self…
RINewsToday.com has a prediction…now that we’ve had the word, millennial, in every new business group and economic and social trend, you are going to start to see a shift and hear more and more talk, targeting, and opportunities for the aging baby boomer population. Maybe it’s just a realization that those over 50 or 55, the mature Baby Boomers – 76 million of them – are growing, and Gen X (currently 40-54 years old) aren’t going anywhere but up in age, too – all 82 million of them in the US. The average life expectancy of 78 assumes years of decline before that. Today, that assumption is not one that has to be expected or accepted. That’s 158 million Americans over the age of 40 – many still in the workforce, or “doing their own thing”, and defying the normal way of counting in employment figures. Many have just gone off the grid and are creating a new, freer, more self-dependent lifestyle and career path.
Who wants you?
Businesses do. Advertisers do. Like it or not, money means power, to a certain degree, and power can be liberating, when it’s used productively. It can help you help others. Or it can be a frittering away in an effort to feel better about things. That’s a pitfall as we age; look out for that. But as consumers? Hey, everybody wants us – we have, those 45 to 64 years old – the highest average amount of disposable income for any age group. Figuring out who needs you might be more important than who wants you. Think community, charity, family, and starting to create the future you know you will need one day to stay ‘wanted’.
Recently a networking organizer announced that he was going to form a new group – just for the ‘older’ people but couldn’t decide what to call it. Caution! Even baby boomers are not liking labels that reference age, so choose carefully. Aging? Mature? Older? Hmm. Look for a new older-focused networking group starting soon in Rhode Island.
And – just this week came the announcement from Providence Business News of their “25 over 55” awards. People were asked to nominate those over 50 for their life’s accomplishments – or some feisty folks could even nominate themselves. The winners are announced, and an awards night will be held in August.
No doubt about it but aging baby boomers (there, we said it) are impacting the workforce. They aren’t going away – they aren’t retiring. They are staying in the game – extending their working years to add to social security calculations or pension amounts as these rock-steady means of support in our older years are now recognized as insufficient to support us as we live way beyond productive life expectations. This impacts some systems uniquely – such as the education system. No longer are teachers retiring at 65 or 62 or after 25 years of teaching. They are staying in the game. Meaning the younger folks getting those education degrees may be on-hold for what was an easy progression into the career, as retirements and attrition had expected paths.
Housing and Support
As baby-boomers may have spent an entire life accumulating, they are now downsizing at faster and faster rates. They are looking to sell, or move to smaller, more manageable homes. Condos with flights of stairs get passed over quickly, especially if laundry rooms are located there – no need to risk those falls. Assisted living opportunities are increasing to meet the demand. A new trend to cooperative shared living arrangements will increase. No longer will the nursing home where chairs are lined up against a wall, with walkers in front of people sitting in front of a television, be acceptable. But, baby boomers plus? You must act now to be that agent of change for when you will need it yourself. And millennials? We may not see the change happen in our lifetime, but if you don’t get involved, too, you may not as well. The time is now to address this – if you have a relative in a nursing home or assisted living, look around. Is this your future? Don’t like what you see? Then be an agent of creative change.
There is no doubt that systems are not yet evolving to support those over 50, but we are seeing changes and the beginning of a trend in social media. Opportunities and platforms available to younger people abound – and with the generations born now into social media their voices will increase. Blogs are proliferating. Finding that voice and using it is of great importance to many. Learn those technologies, and stay current. Flip phones, good-bye, it’s time, and it’s not cute, it limits you. This is not to say that technology vacations aren’t important. But stay in the game, and that means learning technology. And having it work for you, and not against you.
It will be especially important for younger folks to watch their media footprint, because it will follow them throughout life. Companies are checking platforms like Facebook and Instagram – they want to see what level of maturity – or not – they will bring to the company. Same warning for older folk – getting frustrated that life may not be giving them what they want, immature use of social media, can peg them as nasty, grumbling, and jealous of others.
We relish in the trend we see because, ahh, yes, some of us are in those “over” categories. And as RINewsToday.com gets it feet wet, and zigs and zags in its development, we delight in the opportunity, and the partnership with all our writers and supporters, of all ages. The disappointments have been few. Look for changes coming… and yes, we’ll be at whatever that new networking group is called – and we congratulate all our PBN “Over 55” winners for their life’s work.
To those a-grumbling, we ask you this: what will be your legacy? How will you be remembered? Think of those who are passing this world every day. Some believe they are watching our steps. Remember them well, and live as they would want you do. That will give you comfort and guidance, and help to remove bitterness.
Take that old exercise of writing your own obituary. Do you like how it sounds? Is something missing? There’s plenty of time, so start today. Do your own thing, avoid the negative nabobs, put a smile on, and watch out for the embarrassing pitfalls.
To those millennials, and baby boomers – when there is the opportunity, reach out your hand – you DO know a lot – from a lifetime of experience. Be kind. Be supportive. Be open, but cautious, too. Learn from one another. Hold out that hand to one another. But always protect yourself, there will be those who prefer to slap it down than clasp it. That’s reality. Lessons learned, life is out there, keep writing your own path.