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February 2023

How Maria Shriver Wants to Reframe Aging

Screen Shot 2023-02-22 at 4.12.27 PMIn a conversation with Karen Breslau of Bloomberg News at the Century Summit 2022 sponsored by the Longevity Project, Maria Shriver spoke eloquently about the concept of "reframing aging." The 67-year old Shriver is a journalist, best-selling author, entrepreneur, Alzheimer's advocate, film maker and more. The former first lady of California is now part of a task force on aging for Governor Newsom in the state.

With regard to the workplace, says Shriver, "So many industries are stuck in an old model." She observed that there are many people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who "are at the top of their game," among them architect Frank Gehry and investor Warren Buffett.

Shriver added that people in their 50s and 60s want to keep working but are frustrated because society doesn't look at them as "valuable players." Says Shriver, "I think we need a sea change, a narrative change, a reframing change" and she credits Boomers with driving that change. She believes that workforces are better off when people in their 20s and 30s are working together with people in their 60s and 70s.

Shriver herself is a model for what she believes. She says for the first time in her life, she is free of bringing up children and caring for her elderly parents. She now thinks about where she wants to make a difference -- in aging, longevity and women's health. Interestingly, Shriver is also a model for intergenerational living. She has started a business with one son and says, "I love working with my children. I do a lot of that, and my parents did a lot of that." She says her parents worked up until their 80s.

Another key strategy Shriver has continued from her experience as first lady of California to the present day is putting lots of different people together in the same room -- whether they are different ages, from different walks of life, or with different perspectives. She does it "so people can talk, can share stories and learn a new narrative." Shriver believes in "updating story lines on a continuous basis because people don't hear the new story unless they meet people on the ground who are living that new story."

You can find more of Shriver's comments, as well as recordings of other sessions from the Century Summit 2022, here:

Image: Maria Shriver speaking at the Century Summit 2022, The Longevity Project, Stanford Center on Longevity is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

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The "Silver Tsunami" is Coming

Pexels-lucas-andreatta-13347907A recent article in The New York Times highlighted a harsh reality for Italy:

"Italy’s population is aging and shrinking at the fastest rate in the West, forcing the country to adapt to a booming population of elderly that puts it at the forefront of a global demographic trend that experts call the 'silver tsunami.' But it faces a demographic double whammy, with a drastically sinking birthrate that is among the lowest in Europe."

The article went on to point out, "The reality of the gray new world poses a make-or-break test for Italy, making it a laboratory for many Western countries with aging populations, some experts said."

It won't be long before the United States faces a similar problem because America's demographics are trending in the same direction. I've previously written about the impact Boomers have on the country's workforce. Between 2008 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers 55 and older were responsible for 98 percent of the growth of the U.S. labor market. The current situation, however, is very different. Considerably more than half of the approximately 3,5 million people missing from America's labor market today are older workers who have retired.

Despite those who have chosen to retire, a good portion of older workers still want to continue to work. In fact, by 2030, about 25 percent of America's workforce is expected to be 55 years of age or older. The bad news is that as these workers age, employers will have to accommodate them when it comes to health issues.

Whether Boomers are in or out of the workforce, we will place a burden the health system as we age. Today, 35 percent of U.S. healthcare spending is on people 65 years of age and older. In addition to depending on Medicare as our primary health insurance, Boomers will be drawing on Social Security. We'll also increasingly need living situations that are conducive to aging -- whether it's products and services to help us age in place, congregate living facilities that assist us with the tasks of daily living or skilled nursing facilities that provide an even higher level of care.

Globally, numerous countries are seeing significant increases in their elderly populations. For now, the American version of the silver tsunami may not appear to be as ominous as the challenge faced by Italy -- but there is no question that it is coming.

Photo by lucas andreatta, is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

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