In early December, I attended sessions from the online "2021 Century Summit," which was convened by the Longevity Project in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity. One of the topics covered was "The New Map of Life," which I discussed in a previous post. Now I want to share some major takeaways from the Century Summit that I think will have a major bearing on how we Boomers face the future.
Dealing with longevity
One key issue raised numerous times was increasing longevity. According to one speaker, when you consider the average 65-year old couple, one of them has a 50 percent chance of living to age 93. While 50 percent of people say they want to live to 100, 60 percent say they are more fearful of outliving their assets than they are of death. Living longer has a significant impact on how nations around the world deal with aging populations, and it will undoubtedly affect social safety nets and programs for the elderly in the future. On an individual basis, as many Boomers anticipate living longer, their major concerns will revolve around health and financial security. Boomers will be challenged to not just get to retirement but to live through retirement.
Flexible work life
Close to 70 percent of older people say they want to continue to work. Some Boomers will have to work almost indefinitely because of financial needs. Even those who believe they are financially secure may want to continue working to lead purposeful lives. The result is a whole new definition of work life. Many Boomers want to weave together work, education, volunteering and leisure into a more flexible work life. They will have to find ways to restructure their lives to live differently from before. One positive development is that employers are currently so anxious to find workers that they could be willing to hire older workers on a flexible part-time basis. An increasing number of employers also recognize that inclusive and diverse workplaces are better, and that older workers are statistically proven to stay longer and take less time off than younger workers. Another positive development is that Americans over age 55 are driving the establishment of small businesses.
Aging at home
Over 80 percent of older Americans own a home and a significant number of them intend to stay in their current homes and "age in place." The reality, however, may demand thinking differently. Boomers who have lived in the same house for decades may find existing stairs too difficult to navigate, empty rooms inefficient and an accumulation of material possessions unnecessary. That could make downsizing attractive. Some new ways of accommodating an aging population are in development and more are coming in the future. One speaker discussed the growing demand for non-age segregated communities that promote intergenerational living. For example, some retirement communities are set up on or near college campuses and others are adjacent to daycare centers. Expect this trend to continue.
The above are just a handful of observations from this eye-opening summit. The link below provides access to recordings of all of the sessions held at the 2021 Century Summit.