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Posts tagged: Age boom academy

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.

Not many 55-year-old gang members

In the Age Boom Academy today we also learned that older people (50 and above) suffer less depression, mental illness and substance abuse compared with younger folks. And they engage in less destructive behavior.

“That's why there aren't a lot of 55-year-old gang members,” said Karl Pillemer, director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging.

The “weldery?” Pick a better word

In yesterday's Age Boom Academy, the speakers talked about how we talk about the future and its aging citizens might determine the reactions our society has to the coming “silver tsunami.” The narrative of who we are is important. So we need  to come up with better words to describe our aging folks.

The term “welderly” was suggested. Many of aging baby boomers might be in better health than feared as they age. Hence, welderly. 

What names would you suggest to describe aging baby boomers? Your help appreciated.

What will you do with 30 extra years?

I am at Columbia University in New York City for almost a week at the Age Boom Academy, a look at aging trends and issues. There are journalists, writers and even a documentary filmmaker. It's been fascinating already and just a few hours into it. Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, pointed out that the expected lifespan has increased more than 30 years in just 100 years. Born 100 years ago, the average person could expect 47 years of life. Now it's 80. Her question to all of us: What will you do with the extra 30 years?

Your answer?

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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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