If you’re a senior citizen like me, I have a magazine article that I recommend you read. If you’re a teenager, I think you’d gain from reading it, too.

Heck, I suggest you read it if your age is anywhere in between those extremes.

It’s actually a 10-page special report in the July 8 issue of The Economist, titled “The New Old.”

As the title suggests, it focuses on “70-somethings” and beyond, but not as conveyers of doom for the generations following us, as we’re often presented.

You’ve seen the warnings delivered to our children and grandchildren of how expensive it’s going to be for them to support us lay-abouts in the manner to which we’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 they’ll have to cope.

This report alludes to all of that (except the grouchiness), but not as a curse on the younger population. Rather it’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 “institutions and markets,” is to come up with a “radically different approach to aging and life after 65.”

The report see this “different approach” 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 “new old” may be more inclined to take on part-time work than younger workers, particularly those with young families.

We’re not talking about just entry-level work, either.

“Businesses that offer on-demand lawyers, accountants, teachers and personal assistants are finding plenty of recruits among older people,” the report notes.

There’s also evidence that in some jobs, while they may be a little slower than the speed-prone younger employes, they “make up for that with fewer mistakes, so in total they are no less productive.”
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, “In America, the over-50s will shortly account for 70 percent of disposable income,” 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 that’s another challenge.

There’s a lot more to think about in this report, and, no, I’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 she’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.

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

4 replies on “CLIFF’S EDGE: An article on aging”

    1. So true Local Notion! As someone who became my parents caregiver in my early 60’s, I found there was a lot more growing and living to do late in my life! Prior to caring for them I knew nothing of aging. And I mean nothing. My parents had enjoyed rather good health until their late 80’s. I was fortunate in that they were both rather easy to care for. Even so, there was so much to get up to speed on. How to really help them as opposed to what I thought would be helpful. How to still be their child and respect them as parents. How to deal with finances and doctors and caregivers and clinics, the onset of dementia, etc. How to relate to relatives about the transitions my parents were going through. It was a wholly different path then I had been on prior to ‘signing-up’ for the job. I had so much to learn about aging and about myself. Not to sound too ‘whatever’ … but it was a true gift. A true challenge, too, but with many kind people who helped me along the way, I grew in ways I hadn’t even considered before. And of course I grew closer to my parents than I had been since a child. They were wonderful parents, wonderful people. I know how lucky I have been. I am now back on my previous path with quite an expanded view of what to do with my ‘later years’. Cheers Cliff! I will look for the article.

      1. That’s a wonderful response, Clean it Up! We’re spending this week on a smoke-shrouded ranch in Montana, and it’s an ideal time to ponder your thoughts as well as my own. Thanks.

        1. Thanks Cliff. Hope you find an ‘unbeated path’ or two in Montana. Please shout ‘Yahoo!’ for me, when you do. Looking forward to your next post.

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