Seniors: We’ve Only Just Begun

September 15, 2023

Last week the NY Times asked in big bold, all-capped letters, “Can we age gracefully?” They shared this piece at a conference I attended at USC “Aging is Now | Aging is the Future hosted by USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in collaboration with USC Marshall School of Business. The entrepreneurs in attendance were genuinely enthusiastic about the potential market of our aging population. With good reason. According to the U.S. Census Bureau by 2034 there will be more people over the age of retirement than there are children. A significant contributing factor to this is how long people are living.

Which prompted another conversation, that of retirement. That perhaps with people living longer, it’s an idea whose time has come and will soon go. For many people who are still vital into their 60’s, 70’s and beyond is not something they are interested in facing gracefully. On the contrary to many the thought of it feels depressing. Images of Barcaloungers, TV remotes and wandering around without a sense of purpose come to mind. To combat this, one impassioned panelist suggested we mimic the Latin culture that doesn’t actually have the word retirement in its lexicon. Their post-career stage of life is actually referred to as “jubilacion.” You know, from jubilation.

I left the conference inspired hearing Silicon Valley Tech giants and entrepreneurs elevating people over 60 up and out of invisible status. I love the paper of record dedicating several articles to the place we’re all headed. And I am a little tempted to use the word jubilacion instead of retirement the next time it comes up. Not really, but it would be fun to see people’s reactions when I broke into the accent just for that word like a newscaster.

The real news for the more mature of us was the announcement of “The Golden Bachelor,” launching  this month! Woo hoo! You know you matter when reality television feels compelled to represent you.

I’m surprisingly excited about this because just the thought of it makes me laugh. Yes, it’s terribly sexist. And ridiculous. I can’t even fathom being in my 7th decade and competing with other women for a man. But on the bright side, it’s a clear indication that someone is paying attention. Popular culture - in its own crass way - is seeing those of in the last third of life as living, breathing, even – dare I write it - sexual beings!

Academics, entrepreneurs and even Mike Fleiss are hip to the fact that we are all living longer. Recognizing that despite losses and not having the memories or the knees we once had, there is laughter and joy ahead of us.