A New Perspective on Aging by Robin Trimingham
At Olderhood we spend a fair amount of time talking about the need for older people to find ways to keep busy and reinvent themselves. We hit at the notion that a second career might be a good option for some of you, but we don’t push.
But what if you already lived in a country where it is becoming normal to work well past the age of seventy, and it was becoming increasingly common for these older workers to take positions caring for people even older than themselves because there just isn’t anyone else available to do the job?
This might sound like a far-fetched idea but it is fast becoming the norm in Japan where 20 percent of the population is already over the age of sixty-five, and this figure is on the rise because they also have a rapidly declining birthrate. It is estimated that 29% of the population will be over sixty-five by 2020.
This aging pressure is not good for the economy because there are fewer and fewer young workers to drive the pace of economic growth necessary to care for the elderly.
To further complicate matters, due to their overwhelming advances in increasing longevity, Japan also has the distinction of having the world’s largest population of people over the age of 100, meaning that there is a big incentive for researchers there to come up with new solutions to meet the needs of this ground breaking “super-aged” nation and “ensure equity, sustainability and effectiveness of its universally available health and long term care”.
The Japanese are spontaneously creating a lifestyle model that relies on the notion that mutual support among generations is required to build and sustain a society for all ages; which many other countries are going to have to adopt as their populations of aged people swell. According to CNN Money, the world is aging at a rapid rate and by 2030 there will be 34 nations where more than 20% of the population is over 65.
Everything from transportation, to access to exercise, nutrition, healthcare, accommodation, and working conditions is being rethought and reengineered and they are experimenting with developing localized “gathering places” for older people within traditional communities which include amenities such as hot springs, café, small shop, and a lounge for bazaars and flea markets. The idea being, that older people would be able to live, socialize and work in places that were in close proximity to each other.
As you may recall from my article a few weeks ago, Spain, China and the UK have already made strides in the area of exercise, by introducing adult play grounds, can these new concept working retirement communities be far from reality?
By Robin Trimingham