America Is at the Nexus of Aging and Multiculturalism

This Gentleman is likely empty-nested and caring for a spouse or elderly parent.By Fernando Torres-Gil and Diana Lam, March-April 2011,

The United States, like other nations, is now experiencing a “silver” tsunami. And, as has occurred in other countries, we’ve seen this tidal force coming, but are not prepared for it. Millions of native-born baby boomers started turning age 65 this year. By 2032, there will be more people alive over the age of 65 than under the age of 15: there will be more older adults than children. And between now and 2050, the entire age 65-plus population will increase from 13% to 20%.

So starts this 3-page article from the bimonthly newspaper of the American Society on Aging. It continues to describe issues related to people living longer and recommends some Steps to Shape the Future, including:

  • Train geriatric specialists;
  • Train in cultural competence;
  • Rethink housing options;
  • Increase nonprofit involvement in elder programs;
  • Tap into the value of older workers;
  • Encourage volunteerism; and
  • Share responsibility.

I found the article interesting and provide a link in case you want to read it. But I also want to offer some of my own recommendations.

Exploit Assistive Technologies. Some technologies mentioned on this blog are Low-Tech and low cost but offer big benefits. I’m talking about things like grab bars in the shower and lever handles instead of twist faucet handles or door knobs. Even some low-tech electronics like the solar-cell night lights can improve safety at very low cost. But I also write about High-Tech products and how they help people remain in their homes longer.

Encourage Universal Design. Quit thinking so much about accessibility and products for geriatrics. Seniors don’t want to feel old and prefer products designed for everyone’s use, including people with disabilities. That simple concept applies equally well to home design, household products, services, and websites. I’ll be writing more on this topic in coming months but would like to hear of examples from readers.

Get Politically Active. While I try not to use this blog to promote one ideology or another, I do include articles about healthcare reform and encourage you to share your opinions here and with elected officials. Otherwise you can appear politically invisible. Isn’t the real issue less about GOP versus Dems and more about the widening gap of income and political influence? Corporate elites (and now corporations themselves) have used their wealth and power to corrupt both political parties, and the top 1% now have too much visibility and influence while many others have none. So stand up and demand to be heard, seen, understood, and respected.