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Age Boom Academy: Takeaways

The Age Boom Academy is over. The nearly weeklong immersion in aging issues, held at Columbia University's Journalism School, has filled a notebook's worth of ideas. Some takeaways:

1) Generations younger than the boomers shouldn't worry too much that we are going to suck dry Social Security. Almost all the speakers predicted that boomers, especially those now in their 50s, will continue working into their 70s and 80s. Likely more part- time than full time. But this means boomers will continue paying taxes. And the boomers are not clogging the labor pipeline as much as feared. In fact, the majority of people who start small businesses are 50 and older.

2) Boomers may also not clog the health-care system, as feared. They are more into preventive medicine, being proactive and less likely to run to their doctors for every little thing. And they may be more likely to pull the plug on themselves when the end is near. Not assisted suicide, necessarily, but accepting the fact of death and going into hospice, which saves the system a lot of money because as we all know, some of the most expensive care happens at the end of life.

3) We had a fun discussion at one point on how boomers may start creating, and taking, classes on “how not to be an irritating old person.” The classes would include instructions on how NOT to eat and talk with your mouth full, the importance of bathing daily so you can't be accused of smelling like an old person and finally, getting hearing aids when you need them.

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at

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