When considering how to reinvent your later life, think of all the numerous possibilities that an aging population presents. The opportunities are endless with a little bit of imagination and the needed support to get started.
Here are a few general areas that will necessitate new ways of addressing issues for an aging population.
Housing and Transportation
The suburbs were built for a different era. Today we have concerns about carbon emissions and getting from the suburbs (or even more remote areas) to places of work, play, medical care and shops without further harming our fragile planet. None of us want to use our cars as frequently or unnecessarily. Add to this a burgeoning aging population and distance becomes an even greater concern for those who can no longer drive. What types/systems of transportation can we devise for our older friends and relatives?
How and where will we house those who are perfectly capable cognitively but may have physical disabilities? What new types of co-housing, mixed dwelling homes or communities can be established of mutual benefit to those who will need them. Nuclear families have been on their way out for decades and multi-generational living is no longer the norm in our culture. Additionally, Boomers who want to stay in their homes longer than previous generations will need increased help in maintaining their homes and gardens.
There are numerous innovative ways to cater to this growing market so that “aging in place” is possible. Designing new ways of living, commuting, and constructing for more seniors will be essential for successful longevity.
Health and Well-being
People often perceive older folks with a fatalistic lens of decline or deterioration. There are many ways of maintaining health that will involve a huge investment of informed trainers, physiotherapists, coaches among others. Strength and activity are key to aging positively. These activities need to begin sooner rather than later and are relevant to all generations. Today, we are far more concerned about how to maintain our well-being than in generations of the past.
Obviously with age, medical care and assistance will be needed at times. Access to facilities and services will have to be re-invented to accommodate the growing numbers of this older demographic. What new systems can be designed that won’t burden our already scarce healthcare resources? What new apps can be created to help monitor the well-being of seniors in crisis or in need, or simply to make their lives better? What types of homecare services are going to be available to maintain older people in their own homes? The Internet of Things will facilitate it all.
Education and Learning
Life-long learning isn’t just a buzzword. It has serious implications as people age, especially for those who care to remain active and relevant.
Municipalities and school boards offer continuing education that is often of interest to those who want to pursue courses of interest and hobbies. Universities and colleges are open to people of all ages and backgrounds, but if you have ever tried to register in courses as a very mature adult or wait on lines to register, you will realize that some of these services are unsuitable for older people. What are their needs as they enter this stage of life?
Training and retraining courses are on offer by organizations and as part of specialized programs but typically are intended for the more youthful. Where and how are the specific learning and skill development needs of older adults addressed?
Fashion and Design
How often do we consider the “age appropriateness” of a purchase? Is this due to an agist mindset or are there really differences in how we want to be seen and perceived? Whatever the response, there are endless opportunities to explore: new ways of fastening a garment, opening a can, designing furniture, creating patterns for clothing or any other product. The arts and culture provide numerous opportunities to be transformative at any age and for any age.
Both older and younger generations have a stake in creating new markets and making some of these changes available, accessible and affordable for an aging demographic. This presents an opportunity to find meaningful and purpose-driven work at every stage of life. Despite common myths that successful entrepreneurs are younger, it has been proven that older entrepreneurs are the most successful. Don't be distracted by age. Let us help you find your next venture!