“Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country. That remains true today, and gives us ample reason this year to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land. For all ll ll they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older—places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.”
August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day. Ronald Regan named this holiday in 1988 in order to call attention to the quality of life of senior citizens. Yet today, 34 years later, we’re still championing campaigns to fight against ageism in our communities, marketplaces, and workplaces. There is still a great generational divide, where we could have unity and thrive together.
“Senior” is a term used to describe the highest stage in our education and an authoritative marker in corporate hierarchy; “senior” when applied to describe the eldest of our population typically has negative connotations surrounding it. Why is that?
It’s estimated that the global population of people 65+ will reach 1.6 billion by 2050. Despite this, ageism persists and we have yet to keep up with the market for their wants, needs, and skills. So start thinking: How can you help to bring generations together in your community? How can you shift your current business, political career, or a new venture toward the 40+ aging population in a mutually beneficial way? How do you engage the younger generation of creators to see the possibilities of their longevity for themselves as well as for those farther along the age continuum?
Let’s to look to countries that already have an aging population that outnumbers its younger population, and countries that have taken innovative measures to aid the aging. Women account for over 88% of centenarians in Japan and Okinawa is a location of high concentration of them. There they focus on a sense of purpose, community, and spirituality. In the Netherlands, Hogeweyk is a town of people with advanced dementia (which is really more of an advanced care facility). It was created to provide a sense of normalcy and autonomy for these people and it has been a great success.
The issues we are facing today impact all generations. We are in the Big Transition into (and hopefully out of) being a global dissipative structure. We have only two choices: dissipate and disappear, or transform and rise to a higher evolutionary level.
Encore.org currently runs a program to bring age diversity into schools, communities, workplaces, and more, to create co-generational solutions to everyday problems. We’re all in this together—the problems of today and tomorrow require intergenerational innovation.
Now is the time to create order from the chaos and build the aspirational Ageless Futures™ we want to live in and leave behind as a legacy for generations to come.