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People are living longer. Here’s how to stay current on the topic of aging – The Mercury News

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People are living longer. Here’s how to stay current on the topic of aging – The Mercury News

The topic of aging seems to be everywhere and relevant to almost every aspect of life. That was not the case in the mid-1970s when I started in the field.

Being a newcomer at the time, I decided to get a sense of what was considered newsworthy and important by tracking age-related happenings in the print media. I clipped articles from four daily newspapers and occasional periodicals, cut and pasted them (literally) on a sheet of paper, noted the source and date, punched three holes in the single sheet of paper and inserted the sheet into a three-ring binder. (Yes, this is history.) In addition to reading research studies and reports, I felt this was one way to be informed about what was happening “on the ground.” 

In year one, I barely filled one binder. As time passed, I was filling three to four binders a year. Enter the Internet. Cut and past became digital. Today, there is not a day that goes by in print or digital news that does not have several age-related stories. These stories cover public policy, health, longevity, nutrition, ageism, life extension, scientific discoveries, anti-aging, senior housing, products, services and more. 

With more people living longer and with greater needs and opportunities, the explosion of age-related information will only grow. 

Here is a snapshot of 5 areas of aging that are filling print and digital media, podcasts, webinars and reports that are commanding our attention. Note this is a bird’s eye overview from just one person’s perspective and is not based on formal analytics.  

Products: Let’s just focus on a few assistive technology products that help older adults age in their own residence as safely and independently as possible. Smart stoves and ovens can be set to turn off after five minutes of inactivity. Smart pill organizers dispense pills, others use lights to signal which pills to take (Carroself) and how many (Elliegrid). Activity-based sensors can detect if someone is not getting out of bed, opening the refrigerator door or medicine cabinet. (Sensors). 

Management practices: There are now five generations in the workforce, a first in modern history. According to Forbes magazine, a multigenerational workforce is a competitive advantage for several reasons. It is reported to increase productivity, support innovation and drive creative solutions. It provides learning/mentoring opportunities, enhances knowledge transfer and retention and contributes to job satisfaction according to the Academy to Innovate HR.

Appearances: More older notables are proud of their untouched appearances, essentially meaning no cosmetic surgery. “My mother was a great beauty and never succumbed to plastic surgery. She thought it was best to grow old gracefully. I feel the same,” Sigourney Weaver said in an interview last year with El País. For many, retaining one’s natural gray hair is one indicator of aging naturally.

Retirement planning: This popular subject can be foreboding. AARP reports that nearly half of those age 55 and older have no retirement savings. And nearly half (46 percent) of American households have no retirement savings in retirement accounts. Four in 10 workers are projected to fall short of what they need in retirement. 

Where to live: There currently are over 30,000 assisted living communities in the U.S. The need will continue to grow as 70 percent of older adults are predicted to need some kind of care in their lifetime. That care comes with a price tag of just over $57,000 median annual cost in 2023. https://www.seniorliving.org/companies/statistics/ This industry brings in just over $94 billion in revenue. 

Here’s an added fact. The magazine published by AARP (which was previously called “Modern Maturity”) reaches just over 38 million readers, making it the magazine with the largest circulation in the U.S.  

The broad field of aging continues to attract entrepreneurs, students, businesspeople, policymakers, researchers, scientists and more. As the population ages, the stakeholders will only continue to grow with most looking for ways to age well with a sense of stability, health and possibilities. 

Stay well everyone and know every act of kindness counts. 

Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on issues of aging and the new retirement with academic, corporate and nonprofit experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at [email protected]. Visit Helen at HelenMdennis.com and follow her on facebook.com/SuccessfulAgingCommunity



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