Older adults are becoming an “unprecedentedly large” proportion of the United States’ census, with demographers predicting their ranks to swell to 20% of the overall population, says a Time Magazine article, and the Boomer generation needs to get past its selfish reputation and use its power for the common good in order to solve the upcoming aging “crisis.”
Political commentator Paul Begala once called Boomers, “the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation in American history.” The current worry is that as aging Boomers retire, they will grow even more selfish, hoarding scarce resources, such as healthcare and assisted living, at the expense of future generations.
But there’s still time for the Boomers to use their clout for the betterment of the future. Why couldn’t they harness their wealth and political power to campaign for high-quality, publicly subsidized housing for the millions of senior citizens who are in need of better support? Sure, it’s not wholly selfless, since they’ll be the first to benefit. But in this case they could be forgiven, or maybe even appreciated, because building better places for themselves today will provide younger Americans with better choices tomorrow.
Boomers should recognize the value of improving the nation’s housing for seniors. After all, many have struggled to care for their own parents (perhaps they don’t really deserve that self-absorbed reputation), and they know from experience that aging is much easier when there’s support.
In the past 60 years, there’s been a sociological shift toward living alone, with the number of elderly Americans who lived by themselves rising from 10% in 1950 to 40% of the 85+ population, according to the article. And while aging alone isn’t always bad, it could lead to social isolation and vulnerability for multiple health problems.
For those with money, this might not be an issue, as more affluent Boomers can afford to move into assisted living communities, the Times article says. But many Americans can’t sustainably pay for high-quality supportive housing, driving demand for affordable senior housing in a time when the economy is down and “fiscal austerity” is emerging as a global theme.
The article calls for Boomers to help fix the aging problem by “developing collective solutions to address the needs of their own immense generation and those of the future,” saying the matter will only “get worse if something doesn’t change soon.”
Read the full piece.
Written by Alyssa Gerace