Recent U.S. Census data has confirmed what we already know: America’s population is aging. Not only are the Baby Boomers entering their golden years, but people are living longer, too. A longer life expectancy coupled with record numbers of Americans hitting age 65 year after year means the senior population is larger than ever before.
Some experts have expressed concern in recent months about the ability of our healthcare system to adequately support the needs of our nation’s aging population. Will there be enough assisted living and nursing home beds available for those who need them? Will we have enough nurses, social workers and geriatricians to meet the medical and social demands of aging Americans? A number of others are weighing in with research and advice for living longer, healthier lives. The Baby Boomer generation has set a precedence for aging in America, refusing to accept societal norms formerly associated with turning 65. Don’t look for these 65-plus-ers to retire anytime soon, and don’t even think about talking assisted living facilities!
However, don’t be fooled into thinking healthy aging is just for Boomers. Skin, Inc. reports on findings from the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), indicating that health and longevity is a point of interest for every generation. Gen-Xers are focused on looking younger (think Botox and anti-aging creams); both Gen-X and Gen-Y look for ways to reduce stress, get leaner and increase energy. Boomers and beyond, on the other hand, want to reduce cholesterol and joint pain and maintain heart health.
A recent article on InForum.com says that while Boomers are committed to living active lifestyles well into retirement, the time will come when many of them require assisted services. To accommodate the lifestyle demands of this population, aging services providers are shifting their focus to help seniors maintain their independence. Jon Riewer, president of Eventide Senior Living Communities, says Boomers are planning to stay put in their own homes for as long as possible. And when the need for assisted care arises, Riewer says this population will be looking for more privacy and less shared spaces. Eventide’s focus, like many other assisted living communities, is creating an environment that feels like home.
Adding to the healthy aging momentum are professionals like Nardi Steverink, Ph.D., who, according to Science Mag, has devoted her career to researching healthy aging and developing strategies for older adults to maintain independence and stay active. Today, Steverink is a senior researcher with the University of Groningen and the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. She studies the ability of older adults to manage their own well-being and develops courses to teach them how to do so. Steverink says that aging-related research is a growing field, and while funding in this area is hard to obtain, she’s noticed increased attention to the field since the onset of her career. With professionals like Steverink dedicating their careers to developing active adult living strategies, Boomers have much to look forward to in their golden years.
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