If someone were to ask how we would like to see ourselves in the later years of our lives, most of us would respond: independent, healthy, and active. This is not such a far-fetched dream as had been for our parents, and even they achieved those ambitions from time to time.
The life expectancy today in the United States is 72.5 years for men, and 79.3 years for women; the average life span will increase significantly by 2050, if we learn to control the epidemic of illnesses due to overweight and decrease in physical activities in our younger population. Our society should be prepared to face the needs of the aging population that will be living much longer.
The coming years will present a need for the health care community to not only study and research ways to prolong our lives, but to find ways to make people live the extended life span in quality and fulfillment. The elderly should continue to have rich and joyful years, and not struggle with insufficient health insurance, and having to make decisions on whether to buy food or medication.
With the right educational support system, the baby boomers may be entering their senior years healthier, with better health practices, like getting sufficient sleep, exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, not smoking, and having good relationships with the people in their lives. It may seem obvious, but living by those tenants really does make a difference.
A great many of the boomer generation have investments producing income, pensions, and savings that help to provide for an active and fulfilling life without financial worry. Many baby boomers are well traveled, well read, politically active, and taking part in their community activities and programs.
They will hopefully maintain and/or increase their involvement. If they continue to be active socially, take political stands, and help to form a better society for them and the seniors of the next generation, it will not only enrich their lives but also change the way the rest of the society perceives the elderly and the aging process. This generation will force improvement of existing programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The sheer voting power of 70 million people, aged 55 years and older, can practically force politicians to vote for their issues, and we should remember that when the time comes to vote for our congressman, senator or president. One must remember that most of the members of the Congress and Senate qualify for membership in the senior age group.
In spite of the current unemployment numbers and so many baby boomers facing retirement, the market will suffer a loss if very highly experienced and productive employees will be forced from the force work. Again, although I am not an economist, I am sure the economic market cannot afford it. So it’s easy to see that changes will be implemented to encourage workers either not to retire, or to return to the work force. Remaining fully or partially employed will be beneficial to the seniors and to the economy at large.
So if you are nearing retirement, you should consider continuing to work, possibly part time. One could live a very active life, maintaining physical activities and social activities, and continue to work.
The federal and state government should provide educational programs and guidelines, to promote better health practices. Gyms and exercise programs should be tax-deductible. Senior citizens centers that provide hot lunches for a very low fee and are subsidized by the federal government, should advocate better eating habits and educate the participants in practicing a healthy life-style.
This will promote better health in the elderly, and decrease illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc. Your state should offer free health screening, flu shots, and high blood pressure checks. Many senior centers already offer such programs.
The state should develop programs that will allow people to remain in their homes for as long as it is safe for them to do so. It should go without saying that a person would not be removed from his home for any reason other than safety issues. There should be improved programs, similar to Protective Services, that can evaluate a person to see if she or he is physically and mentally safe to continue to reside in their home.