A New Study Shows How Different Generations Perceive Aging

Hands-g2e08d1b29_1280In a novel collaboration, AARP and National Geographic teamed up to create the "Second Half of Life Study," a research study in which more than 2,500 people ages 18 to 90+ were asked questions about aging. According to AARP, the results revealed some surprises in that "most prevalent opinions and stereotypes of aging were proven wrong."

Here is a look at some of the findings:

Younger and older generations are generally optimistic about their future.
More than half of those under 40 (57 percent), and those ages 40 - 49 (51 percent) said they were optimistic about their future. Less than half of those ages 50 - 59 (48 percent) and those ages 60 - 69 (44 percent) said they were optimistic about their future. More than half of those ages 70 - 79 (51 percent) said they were optimistic about their future. Less than half of those ages 80-plus (46 percent) said they were optimistic about their future.

Happiness generally grows with age.
34 percent of respondents age 80-plus said they were very happy, compared with 27 percent of those ages 70 - 79. Only 21 percent of those ages 60 - 69 said they were very happy. For those ages 50 - 59, 40 - 49, and under 40, 20 percent or less said they were very happy.

Brain health, independence, and relationships are the top concerns in the second half of life.
At least half of all age groups selected brain health, independence, and relationships as the top concerns in the second half of life. The most significant variance was that relationships become the most important concern of those ages 70 - 79 and an even larger concern of those 80-plus.

People are surprisingly positive about their health, even if they have at least one serious health condition.
At ages 70 - 79 and 80-plus, 49 percent of respondents said they were in excellent or very good health, even though 83 percent of those ages 70 - 79 and 81 percent of those 80-plus had at least one serious health condition. At ages 60 - 69, 44 percent said they were in excellent or very good health, even though 75 percent said they had at least one serious health condition. Still, 57 percent of those across all age groups who said they were in excellent or very good health also said they were extremely or very concerned about their health.

Retirement expectations and reality shift with age.
Percentages of those actually retired grow from 50 percent (ages 50 - 59) to 59.1 percent (ages 60 - 69) to 63.5 percent (ages 70 - 79) to 65 percent (ages 80-plus). That means almost 35 percent of those over the age of 70 have not yet retired. On the other hand, of those not yet retired, 67.7 percent of those ages 60 - 69, 77.6 percent of those ages 70 - 79, and 91 percent of those ages 80-plus expect to retire.

Living "in my own home" is more popular than living in a retirement community at every age.
The percentages of those preferring to live in their own home rather than a retirement community are: Under 40: 58 percent, ages 40 - 49: 66 percent, ages 50 - 59: 65 percent, ages 60 - 69: 56 percent, ages 70 - 79: 50 percent, 80-plus: 43 percent.

For more, download the PDF of the complete survey results here:
https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/life-leisure/2022/second-half-life-desires-concerns-report.doi.10.26419-2Fres.00538.001.pdf

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Senior Home Safety 101

Guest Post by David Clark

Pexels-mart-production-7328474As we age, certain things need to be considered to ensure our safety. One of those things is our home. A trip down the stairs can be dangerous, and so can a slippery floor in the bathroom. Hence, the need to prep your home to increase senior home safety.

Following are three dangers seniors can face in their homes and three senior home safety upgrades that are worth investing in.

Top Three Causes of Injuries in the Home

Falls

According to the National Safety Council, “Every year, one out of every three adults age 65 and older will experience a fall.” Falls can happen anywhere in the house, but they are most common in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic, such as the kitchen and bathroom.

There are a number of reasons why seniors are more susceptible to falls. As we age, our bones become more brittle and our muscles weaken. This makes it easy to lose your balance and take a tumble.

Vision Problems

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of Americans age 65 and older have some type of vision problem. Common vision problems that can lead to falls include cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

These conditions make it difficult to see obstacles in your path, which can increase your risk of falling.

Unattended Cooking

Cooking is one of the most common causes of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Cooking equipment is involved in almost half of all home structure fires and one-quarter of home fire deaths.” 

Seniors could potentially start cooking fires because they are more likely to use outdated appliances or forget to turn off the stove. They also sometimes live alone, which means they may not have someone to help them if a fire does start.

Upgrades to Invest In

Now that you have a rough idea of what makes a home dangerous for senior living, the next step would be to make senior home safety upgrades to provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.

Bathroom Upgrades 

An essential senior home safety upgrade to consider is upgrading your bathroom. This can include adding grab bars, non-slip flooring, and a raised toilet seat. These upgrades can help prevent falls and make it easier for you to use the bathroom with independence.

Another thing you can do is add a walk-in tub or shower. These can be expensive, but they are worth the investment if you want to age in place safely. Walk-in tubs also have various benefits, such as providing a relaxing environment, helping with pain relief, and improving circulation.

Motion Sensor Lights

Stumbling across a room in the dark can be dangerous, especially if you have mobility issues and vision problems. To help prevent falls, it's a good idea to install motion sensor lights in your home. These lights will turn on automatically when you enter a room, providing you with the light you need to move around safely.

Motion sensor lights are also a great security measure, deterring burglars and giving you peace of mind. Not to mention, they also help you save on your energy bill!

Alarm Systems

Alarm systems can be costly, but they are a necessary senior home safety upgrade. For example, smoke and fire alarms are crucial because during a fire, every second counts. Smoke can travel faster than you can, so having an alarm system in place can help give you and your loved ones the time you need to evacuate safely. These alarms come in handy if you want to prevent fires in the kitchen.

A home security system can also give you peace of mind, knowing that your home is being monitored even when you're not there.

A Final Word

Knowing the basic dangers in a home and being informed of how to avoid them and prevent injury are crucial steps in keeping you and your loved ones safe. These are just a few senior home safety upgrades worth investing in. You can help prevent falls and live a safer, more independent life by making these upgrades. The key to increasing home safety for seniors is to understand the risks and mitigate them with the right precautions and tools.

David Clark is the CEO of Basement Guides with several years of experience in basement-related problems and home safety. He has written and published many resources and guides related to senior home safety, grants, and home modifications. David is currently working to spread the word about senior home safety and health through resourceful guides and articles.

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Retirement Stages and Paths

Harli-marten-M9jrKDXOQoU-unsplash For some time, I've been following the important age-related research conducted by Edward Jones and Age Wave in partnership with The Harris Poll for some time now. The latest edition of their landmark study reveals some interesting observations about retirement "stages" and "paths" that is worth highlighting.

Not surprisingly, today's pre-retirees and retirees have adopted a very different definition of retirement from previous generations. According to the study, "a majority (59%) want to work in some way during their retirement, with 22% looking to work part time, 19% hoping to cycle between work and leisure and 18% wishing to work full time."

The study defines the four new stages of retirement:

  1. Anticipation (0-10 years before retirement)
  2. Liberation/Disorientation (0-2 years after retirement)
  3. Reinvention (3-14 after retirement), and
  4. Reflection/Resolution (15+ years after retirement).

Each stage presents unique expectations, priorities, challenges, hopes and helpful planning for retirement.

The study also identified four distinct retirement "journey paths" as follows:

  • Purposeful Pathfinders: This group enjoys the greatest well-being in retirement and is happy, engaged, productive and contributory. They are best prepared for life in retirement and 78% say they are in great shape financially. They began saving for retirement earlier than all the other groups, on average at age 34.
  • Relaxed Traditionalists: Pursuing a more traditional retirement of rest and relaxation, this group had a smooth transition and are well-prepared. Most (81%) retired when they chose, and while they are the most open to relocating, including to adult-living communities, they have fewer aspirations for personal growth or giving back than Purposeful Pathfinders.
  • Challenged yet Hopefuls: This group leads active lives and have focused on self-improvement, but their lives in retirement are constrained and uncertain due to insufficient financial preparation. Half say they often worry about outliving their money and this taints nearly all their future hopes. They began saving for retirement later than all the other groups, at age 45, and over half with retirement accounts (54%) have made early withdrawals along the way.
  • Regretful Strugglers: The largest of the four groups (31%), these challenged individuals are the least prepared for retirement, are the most unhappy and overall feel the least positive about life. 43% say they are financially worse off in retirement than during their working years. The majority (59%) say they have many regrets in life, and 42% feel that life has dealt them a bad hand.  

The research draws the following key conclusion:

"Retirees who report better quality of life took more steps decades in advance to prepare and plan across all the four pillars of Finances, Purpose, Family, and Health. From saving early and consistently and developing healthy habits to communicating with close family and discovering passions and interests, there are several steps pre-retirees and those early in retirement can take to make the most of their retirement."

This research offers valuable insights for all of us. Learn more about it here:
https://www.edwardjones.com/us-en/market-news-insights/retirement/new-retirement

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Boomers on the Balance Beam

New-york-g88c730c27_1920One of the inherent advantages of being a Boomer is that we know about cycles. The current economic environment is a good example. Boomers have lived through inflation, global conflicts and workplace turmoil. We have cycled through these times before and, hopefully, we came out stronger for it.

Still, sometimes it feels as if we are living on a balance beam, doesn't it? We balance our budget allocations to accommodate rising prices. We balance our aging parents with our grown children and grandchildren. We balance our work lives with travel, volunteering and leisure. We balance our investments and savings with our expenses. If we're over 70, we balance our Social Security income with our RMDs from retirement accounts.

Balance is one of those things that may seem precarious, but the more you become accustomed to what it takes to achieve balance, the more able you are to achieve it. Interestingly, if you have been working full-time or even part-time, the COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to a better understanding of balance. If you had to work remotely, that likely made you reorient your work/personal life relationship and find a new definition of balance. 

If you are moving into your next phase of life, you may view work through an entirely different lens. There may be more of a blurring between work and home life. Here are four potential ways to create a better work/life balance as you age, according to Pacific Life:

  • "Embrace new technology and become more tech savvy."
    Using Zoom and other interactive technologies will not only help you in the workplace, it will also ensure you can stay connected with family and friends, regardless of their location.
  • "Reconnect with old pastimes and create new passions."
    It's no accident that happy retirees are those who rediscover pastimes from their childhood or pursue passions they have always wanted to explore but never had the time.
  • "Focus on your health."
    Health issues become more pressing as we age, so it pays to adopt a healthier lifestyle the older we get. That typically includes a healthy diet, exercise, weight maintenance, good sleep habits, no smoking and limited alcohol. It's proven that healthy lifestyles can add significant disease-free years to life.
  • "Make decisions about where and how you want to live."
    According to Pacific Life, "Making more time for family and recreation now can help you make an informed decision about where to spend your future. You’ll have a better idea whether to stay put or make a move for family proximity, financial or healthcare considerations, or lifestyle amenities."

The above is sound advice -- and it just may keep you from falling off that balance beam.

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A Perspective on Ageism from an Industry Insider

Pexels-marcus-aurelius-6787970Kirsten Flanik is the 55-year old CEO of BBDO New York. BBDO Worldwide is a major marketing communications agency with over 200 locations globally. Flanik spoke about ageism in advertising at an "Ad Age Remotely" online session on April 27. As a 50-plus woman in a senior management position in the advertising business, Flanik brings an informed perspective, enhanced by the fact that one of BBDO's clients is AARP.

I attended the session and got to hear Flanik firsthand. She pointed out that, for the first time, five generations are in the workforce, even though the advertising industry "tends to skew young." She believes that age should not be a factor in hiring for industry positions as long as an individual is intellectually and creatively capable. Flanik said senior workers in advertising should be valued because they bring "different experiences and perspectives" to the business. She admitted, however, that ageism is a real issue in hiring for the advertising industry. Despite this, she is encouraged by the fact that the percentage of 50-plus employees in the workforce is higher than ever. She also noted that there are more 55-plus professionals freelancing than ever before and that these freelancers bring valuable experience to agency work.

An interesting point Flanik brought up when it comes to senior employees: Advertising agencies need to acknowledge that, as people get older, they may face health issues. Management needs to be tolerant and not be biased against older workers because of such issues. She used herself as an example, sharing that she had cancer in her early 50s. She felt that agency management and personnel embraced her rather than viewing the illness as a weakness, which is sometimes the case in the workplace. She said one mistaken perception of older workers is that they are in constant need of help. This simply isn't true. She has found older workers to be strong, resilient and self-reliant.

Perception also plays a key role when agencies and their clients think about consumers, Flanik said. She cited the statistic that 56 cents of ever dollar is spent by consumers who are 50-plus in age, yet agencies and clients still seem to follow the myth that the consumer becomes loyal to a brand at a younger age. That is one reason agencies and clients target consumers in the 18 to 49 age group. She believes that perception needs to change to the realization that "you can become brand loyal at any age." She also said 50-plus tropes are a problem. For example, in advertising, the 50-plus consumer is often portrayed as not understanding technology. Another common portrayal is the older couple, walking on the beach in retirement. Such perceptions are not the way 50-plus consumers see themselves, however. These older consumers may be very comfortable with technology, and many of them may still be in the workplace rather than retired.

Flanik was proud of the fact that BBDO recently hired a global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. She said that DE&I includes sensitivity to race, gender and age. She acknowledged the advertising industry is generally behind in diversity and believes a diverse workplace is essential. The goal of BBDO New York is to be "representative of the U.S. population by 2025" and she indicated the agency is 1/3 of the way there.

It was encouraging to hear Flanik's personal commitment to overcoming ageism as a senior executive in the advertising business -- because this is an industry that is often assailed for its orientation toward hiring young and targeting younger demographics. Hopefully Kirsten Flanik is not the only enlightened CEO running the office of a large agency. 

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The Measurable Health Effects of Ageism

Pexels-muskan-anand-3934328There I go again... writing about ageism!

The reason ageism is a recurrent theme with me is that ageism is a pernicious phenomenon -- a silent form of discrimination we don't expose often enough.

Ageism is typically based on unfounded beliefs and perceptions. Ageism is emotionally hurtful. And if that isn't enough, there is validated proof that ageism has a measurable impact on the health of older people.

Psychologist, epidemiologist and Yale professor Becca Levy has been studying the effects of ageism for over thirty years. In her new book, Breaking the Age Code, Levy shows how age beliefs shape all aspects of our lives. Some of Levy's research studies on the health effects of ageism were cited in a recent article in The New York Times. The specifics with regard to negative vs. positive perceptions of aging are fascinating.

For example, one study followed people for forty years. Individuals who, at young ages, had negative stereotypes about aging had twice as high a risk of suffering cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. In this same study, individuals who held negative beliefs about aging at younger ages "exhibited a sharper decline in the volume of the hippocampus, the brain region associated with memory. They also exhibited, after their deaths, more of the brain plaques and tangles that are Alzheimer’s biomarkers."

In another study, people over 70 who had "positive age beliefs" were found to be "more likely to recover fully from severe disability than those with negative beliefs."

This is striking evidence of the harmful health effects of ageism. It points out that there are real consequences of ageism that manifest themselves in symptoms and illnesses of older people.

In my view, this is not unlike the research that validates the negative health effects of race and gender discrimination. Still, it is worth noting that not everyone is of the same race, and not everyone is the same gender. However, everyone regardless of race or gender undergoes the aging process. If each of us lives long enough into our later years, by engaging in ageism, what are we really doing? It is ironically and tragically sad that discriminating against older people is basically discriminating against ourselves.

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3 Tips for Marketing Your Own Business

Guest Post by Carla Lopez

Pexels-karolina-grabowska-4491492As more Boomers start their own businesses, they need ways to boost sales through successful marketing. You have to use the right approach if you want to achieve your goals. If you aren’t sure how to begin, here are three key tips.

1. Don't Overlook Skill-Building

Many entrepreneurs assume that marketing isn’t overly challenging. However, if you don’t have the right marketing skills, it’s far harder to do well than you’d expect.

That’s why seizing skill-building opportunities is essential. Ideally, you want to begin by getting an online business degree and choosing a business management, leadership, or marketing program. That way, you’ll get a solid understanding of how to approach your company, including marketing it effectively.

Pursuing an online MBA is another excellent choice. You’ll learn about marketing, corporate finance, statistics, and economics, all while having enough flexibility to balance family, work, and school.

2. Partner with Another Business for a Cross-Promotion

Cross-promotions can be an excellent option for expanding your reach and tapping into a new customer base. Plus, it’s an affordable option to explore, potentially costing little more than your time and energy.

When you explore businesses to partner with, avoid direct competitors. Instead, find businesses with customer bases that align with your target market but don’t sell the exact same product or service. For example, if you sell high-end accessories, you don’t want to choose a jeweler if you also sell jewelry as there’s too much cross-over. However, you could partner with a clothing boutique or higher-end shoe store, as you may attract similar customers but don’t directly compete.

After that, you’ll need to find a mutually agreeable approach. One simple way is to showcase each other’s businesses on social media, allowing you to introduce each company to the other’s followers. You can use a similar approach in email newsletters, as well as on your websites.

Offering discounts to shoppers who come from one business and then buy at the other can work. Coming together to sponsor a contest or giveaway is another stellar option, as well as joint-hosting an event, like a fair, concert, or similar community activity.

3. Offer a Free Class that Relates to Your Product or Service

Free classes that relate to your product or service can be great marketing options, especially if your offerings come with a bit of a learning curve. You can show current and prospective customers how to make the most of their purchase, ensuring they see the value in what you sell.

If you’re looking for an easy to deploy, passive option, consider designing an online course that’s available on-demand. Usually, this involves creating a video that you can host on your website or post on a popular platform, like YouTube. That way, you can publish the content once and continuously share information that customers may find beneficial with ease.

In some cases, a live in-person or online workshop could be a better choice. You can engage with customers directly and create a highly authentic experience, both of which may work in your favor. Usually, some simple calendaring and video conferencing software is enough to make this happen

If a full-blown class isn’t ideal for your product or service, you could use a slightly different approach. For example, you can create a post-sale drip campaign to share tips, tricks, and insights over several days or weeks. Along the way, you could even present upselling or companion products and services, potentially snagging a few more sales. Just make sure that the advice always takes center stage, increasing the odds of engaging customers.

These are just three marketing tips to help you find success as a Boomer entrepreneur.

Carla Lopez retired a couple of years ago, but she didn’t lose her entrepreneurial spirit. She created Boomer Biz for retirees like herself who still have a desire to work and achieve. The site is a resource for people in their golden years who want to start their own business or go back to work doing what they love.

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Should You or Shouldn't You?

Pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3783348In February, I wrote a post that cited statistics regarding the high percentage of small business owners who are Boomers. "Small business" is a deceiving term because its definition varies by industry sector. In professional services, for example, "small" could be a business with just a handful of employees, while in manufacturing, "small" may be a business that has several hundred employees. The United States Census Bureau reports a statistic that may shock you: The majority of U.S. businesses have fewer than five employees.

From an entrepreneurial Boomer's perspective, "small" could mean a one-person business. At that size, such a business is likely to be in the professional services sector -- accounting, business consulting, law, marketing and so on. There are many obvious advantages to a one-person business, not the least of which is low overhead. In fact, in today's networking economy, a one-person professional services business can offer even more services to clients simply by sub-contracting other professionals. One person could also operate as an independent contractor, taking on project assignments or filling in as a contracted worker when an employer has a specialized or short-term need. This particular aspect of business is what the "gig economy" is all about.

For older Boomers who draw monthly Social Security benefits and must take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their retirement accounts, a one-person business can be an attractive way to leverage work experience and generate modest additional income. For the most part, the primary goal of these Boomers is probably personal satisfaction rather than income generation. On the other hand, there are sure to be a substantial number of older Boomers who have no intention of "retiring" and continue to work in their own businesses, either part-time or full-time, with the goal of making some serious money. Younger Boomers not yet ready to draw retirement benefits may be even more motivated to use self-employment for financial gain.

The "X" factor, in my opinion, is how much drive you have to be your own boss. I'll use myself as an example. I owned and operated a direct marketing agency for two decades, starting out as a one-person business and growing it to more than fifty employees. After leaving that agency, I went to another advertising firm for a few years. Honestly, working for someone else was not something I enjoyed, so my next move was to operate a small business with my spouse for seven years. Then I transitioned to a part-time writing business.

Even though the size of each of my own businesses was dramatically different, I have basically been a small business owner all along. That has helped me understand what it means to be self-employed.

Should you or shouldn't you consider working independently? Obviously this is a very personal decision that involves an assessment of your own experience/capabilities as well as your income goals. But if the drive to be on your own isn't a fire in your gut and you still want to work, you might be better off pursuing a part-time or full-time position with another employer rather than working for yourself.

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How COVID-19 Intensified Ageism

Virus-g9628219e3_1920Those Boomers who have already been vaccinated and boostered are probably relieved to know that on March 29, the Food and Drug Administration authorized second booster shots for COVID-19 for everyone 50 and older. Having grown up with an understanding of how effective immunization is against such diseases as polio, Boomers are among the more accepting of vaccines.

When the pandemic first started, individuals with underlying conditions of any age, along with Americans age 65 and older, were prioritized to receive vaccinations. This was a sound decision since statistics indicated that older Americans were being infected and dying of COVID-19 at a higher rate than younger people. Most Boomers didn't hesitate to be vaccinated.

But something else happened in the early days of the pandemic: Some stories disparaging older people started circulating. The most virulent of the bunch suggested to varying degrees that COVID-19 was an "old person's disease" or, worse, that old people who got COVID-19 "deserved to die." These kinds of stories are so repugnant they don't seem worthy of mention -- but mention them I must, because they represent a disturbing, deep-rooted ageism that was intensified by the pandemic.

The National Center on Elder Abuse, in its research brief on ageism, wrote the following:

"The COVID-19 contagion has exposed and animated long simmering age prejudices within society. The pandemic unleashed discourse rife with depictions of older adults as helpless, burdensome, and expendable, provoking public dialogue about the prioritization of health care and allocation of essential resources. In addition to perpetuating negative perceptions of older adults and stoking age-based social divisions, these discussions laid bare persistent structural inequities which disproportionately inhibit older people from accessing appropriate medical treatment and employment opportunities. Among the age-based COVID impacts, older adults have faced increased medical morbidities, workplace discrimination, financial insecurity, and social isolation."

The research brief also documents the consequences of ageism. Among them are these correlations for older adults: 

  • Poorer medical and mental health outcomes
  • Employment discrimination
  • Significant monetary losses
  • Increased social isolation and loneliness
  • Environmental stressors
  • Elder abuse.

It is very likely that all of theses conditions were intensified by the existence of COVID-19.

Another aspect of ageism is equally troubling -- our self-perception of aging. This again is from the research brief issued by the National Center on Elder Abuse:

"Older adults may implicitly and unconsciously consume ageist rhetoric through their lives and internalize stereotypes, resulting in self-directed negativity and eroded self-confidence. These feelings can affect social engagement and the pursuit of employment opportunities. They may also impact elders’ perceptions of aging and their feelings about other members of their age group.

Self-perceptions of ageism can exacerbate stress, impede cognitive function, increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, lead to unhealthy behaviors, contribute to poor health outcomes, and incite brain changes in later life."

I've written extensively about ageism in advertising and the workplace. Never has ageism been so blatant as during the pandemic. The ageism exhibited in the media's reporting of anti-elderly sentiment is just the bubbling up of something we all face in society on a daily basis.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, "Ageism is one of the most prevalent, least recognized, and tacitly normalized forms of stereotyping and prejudice within society. Every person who grows old is likely to be the target of ageism at some point in their life."

Boomers who are pummeled by anti-aging messages need to stay strong and maintain their self-respect. There is nothing "wrong" with growing old -- it's a natural occurrence that happens to all of us. What's wrong is the attitude of those around us and, in some cases, our own self-perception about aging.

It took a pandemic to lay bare the ugly truth about ageism in America and, in fact, globally. All of us need to remain vigilant and fight against ageism if we are to live in a world that rejects discrimination of any kind.

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What Boomers Can Do to Help Fight the Climate Crisis

Thermometer-g8f45947a1_1920The most recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released on February 28, 2022, stated, "Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit." That's about as grim as it gets.

Arguably, Boomers were at least in part responsible for helping to create the climate crisis, so what can we do to help fight it? We can take a lesson from young people who are rising up around the world to become climate activists, for one thing. There are personal actions we can all take that can make a difference. If enough of us take even a few small actions, it all adds up. For example, Steve Vernon, writing for Forbes, has three good suggestions:

  1. "Eat less meat. The meat industry produces large quantities of greenhouse gases, consumes huge amounts of water, and releases many toxins into the environment. You don’t have to become vegetarian or vegan to help–just cut back on your meat consumption by serving smaller portions of meat and compensating with more vegetables and fruits."
  2. "Drive less, and walk, bike, or use public transportation more. Explore how you can go about your daily errands by walking, biking, or using public transportation."
  3. "Right-size and climatize your home. That three- and four- bedroom home in the suburbs with a lawn may have been a good place to raise your family or commute into the city from, but it might not be the best choice for your retirement lifestyle. Try looking for a smaller place that uses less energy, is easier to maintain, offers lower property taxes and homeowner insurance rates, and enables you to walk or bike to most of your activities."

If you'd like to do more as part of a larger effort, consider the following initiatives:

  • Join Elders Climate Action's "Local Action Teams" to get resources, networking opportunities and more on a local level.
  • Join the nonpartisan Citizens Climate Lobby to advocate for positive climate work by lobbying the government.
  • Join Third Act's "Bug the Banks" movement to tell banks to stop funding fossil fuel companies.

These are just a few examples. An internet search will reveal plenty more. You may remember the bumper sticker that was popular during our youth, "Think Global, Act Local." There is no better time to take that to heart. Consider the health of the entire planet, and act locally in your own neighborhood, town, county and state to take action for positive change. Mother Earth will thank you for it -- and it just might make her a better place to live for our grandchildren.

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