Big changes are in store for America's older citizens in 2017 and beyond, says Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.
"It used to be that the world belonged to the young when in fact it has always belonged to the young at heart. And, with more people living longer than ever before, the older generations have an opportunity to show our worth. The stereotypes of the past are slowly but surely giving way to a new way to look at the so-called 'older generation' as more and more of us embrace active retirements and even the establishment of new business careers." according Weber.
Recently, the Milken Institute's Center for the Future of Aging shed light on the importance of recognizing the nation's aging population as an invaluable asset. At a summit convened to stress the importance of the contribution the older population can make in the nation's future, participants focused on the need for "reframing perceptions of aging in the 21st century."
Among their conclusions: we must change our perceptions of growing old. A report issued at the conclusion of the Milken summit stated that: "Today it is socially unacceptable to ignore, ridicule, or stereotype someone based on their gender, race, or sexual orientation. So why is it still acceptable to do this to people based on their age? Ageism creates a negative reality of aging. It's bad enough that ageism can influence public policy, employment practices, and how people are treated in society, but what's worse is that we accept the ageist behavior ourselves and start acting it out. Older people are as multidimensional as any other group in our society. We need to show the multidimensionality of their passion."
The Census Bureau estimates that America's population aged 65 and over will be nearly 84 million people or nearly 20% of the nation's expected population.
"What's more important," says Dan Weber, "is the fact that the majority of them will be active citizens, playing a transformative role in society. The miracles of modern medicine will contribute to the 'new look' of old age, but it will be the self-determination that we express today that will make the difference. There's a lot of knowledge we carry around in our old brains and it is time to put that knowledge to good use by becoming role models and mentors. It's a New Year's resolution befitting the knowledge we have amassed over the years."