How American society is changing with increasing life expectancy - ForumDaily
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How American society is changing with increasing life expectancy

What will a society look like in which the average life expectancy of 100 years and the number of people older than 65 exceeds the number of children under the age of 15? This is not an exercise in the field of science fiction, but a very real task, over which politicians, economists, physicians, marketers, cultural figures and not only fight in the USA.

Фото: Depositphotos

Today The average life expectancy of an American woman is 86,6 years., and the age at which she can retire is 62 years old. For men, these numbers are not too different. (A slight drop in life expectancy for a certain category of the population does not change the general trend). And if the first number rises to 100—which is what medical successes convince us of in reality: better diagnostics, medications, vaccines, and a revolution in surgery—then something needs to be done with the second number.

An attempt at a fair conversation on this topic, according to the author of the article, Tatiana Vorozhko, cost the election to a promising politician. Marco Rubio at the debates during the 2016 party election year proposed raising the retirement age to 2 years for those who are now 30-40 years old, and lost the primaries in his native Florida next day.

But it is obvious that it is impossible to work for 35-40 years, and then play golf, fish and fry hot dogs for the same number of years. At least for the vast majority of Americans, neither their state pension nor their own savings will be enough for this.

And most do not want. Still, 40 years of fishing can get bored, especially after a tense but interesting career. Already today at the age of 65-79, 23% of Americans and 5% of those who work for 80 are working.

"The elderly gentleman is looking for ... work"

Three quarters of Americans older than 60 said they wanted to work, mostly for other non-financial reasons, in a survey of insurance company Aegon. But only a quarter of them at work have programs that help them realize themselves in a new role, writes Time magazine in a special issuededicated to the phenomenon of growth of life expectancy.

Being physically and mentally healthier than their parents at the same age, older Americans are no longer looking for recognition and financial success, but the opportunity to contribute to a better world, leave a legacy, but at the same time - have a flexible work schedule and less physical activity . They have “climbed” to the very top of Maslow’s pyramid and are demanding that their new needs be met.

Individual consulting companies and financial institutions in the United States help companies and private clients adapt to changing demographics. Workers are encouraged to find an “anchor career” or “second act” and advise Americans already at the age of 40-50 to think about who they want to be “when they grow up”.

This could be teaching part-time, volunteering, which older people in the United States actively do, or, for example, providing legal advice instead of litigating cases in the courts. Retirement, experts say, will not be one step, but a long process that can last for years and decades and often includes obtaining a second education or living abroad - just as young people do now after school.

Other categories of workers also benefit from the objective need for employers to create working conditions that will help delay retirement. The opportunity, for example, to work 4 days a week will benefit everyone - some to reduce their workload and have a day for doctor visits, and others to train for a marathon, launch their business or devote more time to children and home.

One way not to depend on the will of the employer is to have your own business. According to the Kauffman Foundation, in 2011, every fifth entrepreneur was 55-64 years old, and half of them were over 45. If you start a business at 55, then after 10 years, if the business is successful, you will be able to decide for yourself how much to work and what functions to perform. (This and some other data cited in this article is from the collection “The Benefits of Aging: How Long Life Is Changing the World of Medicine, Work, Innovation,” edited by Paul Irving.)

Aging population is a boon for business

Experts urge to consider the aging of the population not as an economic burden, but as excellent business opportunities. Ergonomic chairs? Orthopedic sports shoes? Non-slip surfaces for bathrooms and showers? Smartphones with big buttons? Thin soulful film about the complexity of a mature marriage and the problems of adult children? Escort service: “A gray-haired gentleman goes with you to the philharmonic society, to the exhibition and walk along the embankment”? In 2017, half the population of the United States will be people older than 50.which will control 70% of total private consumption. Everything that helps older people lead an active and productive life is doomed to commercial success.

And the American business is listening. Much of the news channel advertising is aimed at people older than 60. The commercials show attractive, well-groomed men and women, setting new standards for mature beauty. Television series in depth and quality already bypass films that go to the box office.

Фото: Depositphotos

New areas in cities are planned on the basis that there will be no need to use a car. This “European” model, as it is called here, is admired by environmentalists, young people, and elderly people who do not become dependent on their relatives and guardians after their car keys are taken away. In Washington, by the way, special free classes are offered in which local elderly people are taught how to use the subway. After all, all their lives they have been nothing but a car.

In new homes, you hardly see the door handles that need to be turned, which is difficult for people with arthritis. Instead of them, handles are installed, which should be pressed on top. In addition to people with arthritis, there is a bonus for dogs who learn to open the door with a single jump on the handle.

We are building life in a new way - based on a life expectancy of 100 years

Expansion of horizons affects decisions in personal life at the beginning of the journey. The choice for women between motherhood and career in general becomes irrelevant. If a woman chooses motherhood and devotes 20 to her children only, what will she do with the remaining 50? On the other hand, it looks absolutely reasonable for a long, about five years, child care leave: with 60 years of work experience, 5 years can be devoted to children, it's just 8%!

Some life strategies that might have seemed “loser” with a life horizon of 65 years now look quite reasonable. For example, one of my relatives, who was an excellent student at school and dreamed of becoming a biologist, dropped out of university in her third year, and at the age of 24 already has two children. “It’s okay,” I tell her father, my husband’s brother. “Vicky can always finish her studies, and if she goes to work at age 30, when the children go to school, she will have 40 or even more years of career ahead of her. It’s much better than having a child and being torn between a baby and a career at the same age, when you already have responsible responsibilities at work, but don’t yet have the power to dictate terms.”

You should not laugh at university graduates who have returned to live with their parents and save money on housing. Without mom and dad, they will still live 70 for years, and 2-3 of the year savings can be a huge help at the moment.

And if you have to work longer, then you need to look better and take better care of your health. Americans began to smoke less, play more sports and eat healthier.

Фото: Depositphotos

The cost of cosmetics and cosmetic procedures are growing cosmic pace. In 2015, the popularity of Botox increased by 2000% compared to 759, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Maintaining health, beauty and mental well-being - Wellness is another promising global business, as well as a philosophy of life that is sure to stay with us for a long time.

In 1900, life expectancy in the United States was 47 years. Those born today can expect to spend a century on this planet. Pessimists see the future of the West as a huge nursing home, where immigrants from third world countries push carts with local old people, changing the essence and culture of Western civilization. Optimists are a more mature, stable and wise world where people live long and productive years of life. But whatever this new world becomes, you and I have already witnessed its birth.

The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian service "Voices of America".

ForumDaily is not responsible for the content of blogs and may not share the views of the author. If you want to become the author of the column, send your materials to [email protected].

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