Over four thousand professionals in aging converged upon the city by the bay in San Francisco last month for the annual Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging, where the top experts from around the country presented the latest thinking and research on a myriad of subjects.

Attendees pursued over one thousand sessions in some fifty different topic areas including family care giving, retirement, Medicare/Social Security reform, grand parenting, lifelong learning, the aging workforce, health promotion and wellness, innovations in long term care, business concerns, and even sexuality in the longevity revolution.

With the theme of this year’s conference, “The Road Ahead: Taking the Journey Together” it was enlightening to see the focus addressing not only current issues, but perhaps more importantly, innovative discussions on the upcoming challenges and opportunities of an aging society as the Baby Boomer generation starts turning 50, and in eight short years, in 2011, the first of the largest generation in history will be turning 65.

The Baby Boomers have always had a powerful influence on society, primarily due to their numbers. Between 1946 and 1964, 76 million people were born, one-third of our total population. And just has they’ve had a major impact of every phase of life they’ve experienced, their effect on aging is expected to be no different.

During the conference’s general session, a panel of professionals, including Anita F. Hill, Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies at the Heller Graduate School at Brandeis University, addressed issues pertaining to the changing landscape of an aging America and particularly, the effect the Baby Boomers will have on social change.

One thing baby boomers are definitely good at is raising awareness. In many ways, they created the childcare issues because with so many women working, their numbers enabled them to demand social change and the development of programs to assist them in juggling work and home responsibilities. They are likely to generate a similar form of assistance with the eldercare needs, especially since it’s now estimated that the average family can expect to spend more time caring for an aging parent than their own children -- and are likely to have more parents to care for than they have children. Look for more national programs, services and providers to help here and/or a likely tax break as a more immediate response to assist with this issue.

The concept of retirement is also likely to change. Of course, taking lead from today’s active and healthy retirees who are so involved they often wonder how they ever had time to work, the idea of fishing and golfing is being replaced by a desire to continue being productive and experiencing new options.

Perhaps of utmost concern is the economics of retirement and increased longevity. Coupled with the reality of a growing debt ratio and decreased savings, financial gerontology was a new subject at this year’s conference as there is growing concern many people will likely outlive their money. With people spending one third of their life in retirement, an estimated thirty years, and the Social Security Administration’s estimate that only 8 of every 100 people will have adequate income after working forty years, some changes are definitely going to have to be made.

Kelly Ferrin is a local gerontologist residing in Carlsbad. She is a certified
AARP retirement specialist, motivational speaker, consultant, and author of a
nationally released book titled, "What's Age Got To Do With It?" For column
ideas contact her at (760)438-2126 or on the internet at ageangel@earthlink.net.
Kelly Ferrin, Gerontologist Lifestyles (760)438-2126 web: http://www.ageangel.com

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What's Age Got To Do With It?