Experts from the April 1 Aging in America Conference have announced that Baby Boomers will transform aging in America over the next decade. Moderator Ken Dychtwald, president and CEO of the consulting firm AgeWaveBy 2020, puts it bluntly: “Anyone who thinks [the boomers] will turn 65 and be the same as the generation before are missing out on the last 60 years of sociology,” he said. “Boomers change every stage of life through which they migrate.
“Historically, Americans led “linear” lives because so many only lived into their 50s and 60s, Dychtwald said. Today, “a new model of life is emerging,” he said. “People want to distribute the longevity bonus. They are going back to school at 40 and coming back from illness to run a marathon at 80. They are beginning as late bloomers and hitting their stride in later years. The new model of life means aging isn’t an isolated zone in ‘Seniorville.’ We are thinking about people as beginners again and again.”
Residents of Seniorville, when asked to respond to the statement, were not happy that the implication was that anyone running a marathon at age 80 was a Boomer or had anything to do with Boomers.
“This is one more example of Boomers co-opting the achievements of other generations,” grumbled 80-year-old Horace Wilkins of the Popponessett, MA Seniorville. I just had open heart surgery and am registered to run the Boston Marathon this year. I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it now.”
Horace’s wife, Mabel, agreed. “This is exactly why I spend most of my time watching QVC and ordering stuff,” she explained. “I don’t want to spend any energy doing anything that Boomers will take credit for.” Mabel then showed this reporter her collection of Christmas sweaters from The Quacker Factory.
The news poses a problem not only for those older than Boomers but for those slightly younger, as well. People in their 40s are right behind Boomers on the Conveyor Belt of Life. A spokesperson for the Aging conference suggested that this group might want to consider putting off the aging process for awhile, until Boomers have perfected it fully. As he explained, “The first year of any new model can reveal problems. Give us a couple years to perfect the aging thing. Then you guys can come forward.”
Author and columnist Gail Sheehy, a member of the panel, called the mid-50s to the early 70s the “Grand Tweens,” saying that “the pioneers and pathfinders among us” will shape this new stage of life, characterized by a renewed sense of purpose. Responding to a call for the new Grand Tween Movement, Justin Beiber has announced a tour of all over 55 communities in Florida. Maidenform is about to release its “Tween Bra,” with discreet levers and pulleys sewn in.
Ariana Huffington, another member of the panel, said that America needs to look globally for perspectives on aging. “Aging is so dramatically different where I come from. There is a reverence for people getting older in Greece,” she said. “There is a realization that you have lived this life and now have wisdom to impart to the rest of the world. You see the same sense of village elders in so many cultures, but not in America.”
Halithersis Napolapoulos, an elder from the Greek village of Monemvassia, was interviewed via Skype. When told what Ms Huffington said and asked what he thought his culture could teach Americans, he replied, “Huffington. Not Greek. No sir, no way. And what is dis Boomer? I not hear about that.” His wife, Agathangelos, was unavailable for comment and forced him to get off Skype. “She needs to go on de computer to buy dem stupid Christmas sveaters on QVC.”