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Technological changes in several fields of knowledge are bringing about an increase in the proportion of the world’s elderly (age 65 plus). Still, the USA might be a bit ahead of the trend than most other nations. The elderly 52 million of us in 2018 were 16% of the population and will grow to 95 million or 24% of the population by 2060 (U.S. Census Bureau); both the number and percentage of geezers will bring about significant changes that the current culture will find difficult to accept.

Social Security is expected to disappear in the early 2030s when falling birth rates no longer bring enough younger workers into the taxable workforce to support the program.

Family dynamics will require the attention of family members to some level of care related to one or more of their elders’ activities and medical or emotional support. Intergenerational living arrangements will occur due to economic and social changes. Gender roles in caregiving will trend toward more equitability. Increased strain on family resources will bring some families unexpected situations. Retirement planning for longer lives or caregiving will be in store.

Stereotypes that ageists have promoted must change to a more positive narrative around aging emphasizing wisdom, experience and contribution: the value of our elders. The promotion of healthy aging is everyone’s concern.

There must be no presumed age of retirement from the workforce, but there also must be no expectation of a permanent position for age-related decreased abilities. Healthy people of all ages will be expected to continue working at least part time until they either cannot or need not. Older workers bring skills, experience and knowledge retention to the workforce. Some employers will find it beneficial to accommodate older workers’ needs. Flexible work and remote work may entice experienced workers. Age-friendly communities must equal child-friendly communities in importance. Policymakers must be aware of the elderly’s needs to live in dignity and as independently as is feasible.

Intergenerational relationships and interactions must be sought as mentorships and community service projects, with encouragement of interpersonal, intergenerational and family relationships. Communities should be involved to create a sense of belonging and connection.

Digital and technological advancements must include processes of and for the inclusion of elders in both social and business communication processes.

This will happen because the elderly will control a significant portion of the wealth. Age-friendly social, business and public places will be the norm.

Healthcare insurance coverage for the elderly must begin for the individual before they become elderly. If this is not done voluntarily it must be done legislatively, requiring all companies to include such costs in all policies. One must provide for his future care if he expects to have care. If care is not provided by insurance, it must be provided through out-of-pocket payments.

Programs that call for government payments in social costs to increase will be impossible if the U.S. dollar is to remain a competitive currency. If methods are not found to extract payment for future care from earnings, care for some of our elderly poor will be lacking. Long-term healthcare policies are already impractical and expensive for most. Health care for the elderly will be a major concern.

The increasing political clout of the elderly may be able to generate a source of funding for some sort of Social Security for at least some of them, but count on increasing personal, employer and family responsibility for retirement income.

At the same time, because of the burdens created for successful parenting in today’s and the future world, the need to replenish at least the most productive portion of our population will be an additional concern.

Jim N. Taylor lives in Harlingen.