If youâ€™re a senior citizen like me, I have a magazine article that I recommend you read. If youâ€™re a teenager, I think youâ€™d gain from reading it, too. Heck, I suggest you read it if your age is anywhere in between those extremes. Itâ€™s actually a 10-page special report in the July 8 issue of The Economist, titled â€œThe New Old.â€ As the title suggests, it focuses on â€œ70-somethingsâ€ and beyond, but not as conveyers of doom for the generations following us, as weâ€™re often presented. Youâ€™ve seen the warnings delivered to our children and grandchildren of how expensive itâ€™s going to be for them to support us lay-abouts in the manner to which weâ€™re accustomed. And then there are the burdens of their providing us with mobility, health, leisure activities, etc., as we grow older and older. Not to mention the extended years of grouchiness with which theyâ€™ll have to cope. This report alludes to all of that (except the grouchiness), but not as a curse on the younger population. Rather itâ€™s described more as a worthwhile challenge for all of us. And I generally see challenges as a benefit. For example, rather than faulting an increasing tendency of the elderly not to retire at 65, the challenge for â€œinstitutions and markets,â€ is to come up with a â€œradically different approach to ageing and life after 65.â€ The report see this â€œdifferent approachâ€ as benefitting those who may need to take these oldsters into the workplace or accommodate their quirky buying habits in the marketplace. For one thing, they say, the â€œnew oldâ€ may be more inclined to take on part-time work than younger workers, particularly those with young families. Weâ€™re not talking about just entry-level work, either. â€œBusinesses that offer on-demand lawyers, accountants, teachers and personal assistants are finding plenty of recruits among older people,â€ the report notes. Thereâ€™s also evidence that in some jobs, while they may be a little slower than the speed-prone younger employes, they â€œmake up for that with fewer mistakes, so in total they are no less productive.â€ Teams blending older and younger workers are most efficient, observers say. Consumers? Most advertising reminds you of the target most marketers desire. But that may be a mistake, this report suggests. For one thing, â€œIn America, the over-50s will shortly account for 70 percent of disposable income,â€ according to one forecast. The challenge for businesses may be as simple as bringing hesitant seniors more aggressively into the modern world of smart phones and the procedures and practices that come with them. Speaking of technology, the Economist report notes that while new ways of doing things appear to be driven by, again, the younger generations, they offer some of the greatest promise in meeting the needs of us old folks in terms of health, comfort, and security. Same technology, different marketing, and thatâ€™s another challenge. Thereâ€™s a lot more to think about in this report, and, no, Iâ€™m not selling magazine subscriptions. I came by this issue through two neighbors, the woman across the street who subscribes to The Economist and an avid reader next door who gets them after sheâ€™s finished them. And right there is another challenge: How to better spend those added years with good neighbors. The magazine also could be found at the local library.
Cliff Rowe is a retired journalist and journalism professor. (He practiced both in a time before journalists and what they produced were considered “enemies of the people.”) He and his family have lived in the Shorewood area of White Center (then Burien) since 1969 when they returned to the Northwest after seven years in the Chicago area. There, following graduate school, he wrote and edited with the Chicago Sun-Times and with Paddock Publications in the Chicago suburbs. On moving here, he was with The Seattle Times for 11 years before turning to teaching journalism at Pacific Lutheran University for 35 years, retiring in 2015.]]>