Elder Boom! A crisis or a blessing?

Senior friends standing in circle on the beach
“People getting older is not a crisis, it’s a blessing”  Ai-Jen Poo, author The Age of Dignity

At both poles of human life – caring for one another is what we do and that is part of our humanity.” Ira Brock Hospice care Physician

My mother cared for both of our grandparents in our home when I was a little girl.  I cared for my children as they were born, and  my husband when he had open heart surgery.  I cared for my mother when she was transitioning from this life to the next.

Two of my daughters work full time in caring types of jobs, they  have teenaged sons, and their mother-in laws are in their 90’s,  living independently, but needing assistance. Their lives are filled with caring for their teenagers,  tending to the needs of their mother-in-laws, and providing care to others in their work.  Their experience  is no different from millions of families in the United states.

  • There are 5 million Americans over age 85, which is our country’s fastest growing demographic. In 2035 that number will be 11.5 million.
  • Four (4) million of us will turn 65 this year.
  • One hundred years ago, 3% of the population was age 65 or older.   Today more than 14% are over 65, and by 2030 the number will be 20%.
  • We have more senior citizens in America today than we’ve had at any time in our history!

Despite these daunting numbers, Ai-Jen Poo, a thought leader and social activist, in her 2016 book, “Age of Dignity, preparing for the elder boom in a changing America, outlines a road map  for the opportunity  to   become a more caring Nation.

This is an opportunity to strengthen our intergenerational and caregiving relationships.

  • Care is something we do.
  • Care is  something we want.
  • Care is something we can improve.
  • But more than anything Care is the solution to the personal and economic challenges we face in this country.
  • Care doesn’t just heal or comfort people individually;  it really is going to save us all!

What seems like an immense challenge is actually an incredible opportunity to transform the three million direct care caregiving jobs to good sustainable jobs for the 21st century –  to jobs that each person takes pride in with joy in service.

  • It is also the opportunity to make sure that  our work and family care policies reflect the needs of families.
  • It is an opportunity to make sure that every one of our loved ones that took care of us actually have the choices they deserve – to live with dignity, giving each person the opportunity to  continue to teach us how to care.
  • We have the opportunity to  create solutions that uplift the future of us all.

This short video introduction to the concepts confirms that “Caring is what makes us human.”


About the Author:    Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living  , located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years experience in not-for-profit and for profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living.











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