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The Census Department confirmed this month the end of an era that last over 50 years. We Baby Boomers, the largest generation in the nation’s history are now the second largest generation. Yes, our children, the Millennials, born between 1981 and 1997, have surpassed us with 75.4million. There are 74.9 million in our Baby Boom Generation which peaked at 78.8 million in 1999. For the Millennials the increasing number of immigrants in their age range is adding to the increase while the number of older immigrants is less than the mortality rate of us Baby Boomers now. The generation between us, born from 1965 to 1980 is smaller and will peak at 65 million in 2018 and will surpass us in 2028.
Throughout our entire lives, we have dominated the history of the country from our early days in the 1960s when schools had to be built or expanded, through our entrance into college when students challenged the Vietnam War and so many more policies of the political and social order. The civil rights movement, the environmental movement, the gay rights movement and the women’s movement all may have begun when we were kids but many have taken up their banners as adults to change the face of the country from what we remember it as when we first became politically aware. We continue to have an influential role as is evidenced by the large number of older persons showing up at political rallies this year.
We are going to challenge all the definitions of older age as we are already doing. If you go to your local gym, it is amazing how many seniors, older than us, are there with us. For many the gym, the food coop and the library are the social centers for many older persons. There are a lot of us continuing physical activities from our youth.
We are the most affluent generation ever so there are many who are able to enjoy a higher standard of living, but not everybody is healthy or wealthy so the burdens of older age for those without money or good health remain. The social and community services networks as well as the support of faith based communities remain important in helping those in need. Seniors are a large source of volunteers in this country. I see it all the time working with Community Caregivers in Albany as they drive their peers to doctor appointments, help with household chores or make re-assurance calls.
The Greatest Generation of our parents and grandparents, born from 1910-1924 is now in last years All are in the 90s or older and a few members of it could live to around 1930. For us Baby Boomers, we are now 52-71. In twenty years, we will be 72-91 and some of us will make it to 2050 and beyond. We will be a tremendous burden on our long term care system. I suspect though that we will fight hard to remain independent and that is why it is so important to promote grassroots efforts to support family caregivers, start self help villages and supportive communities and neighborhoods that focus on the quality of life for older persons and those of all ages.
We must pass our community activism and volunteerism to the Millennials because Facebook has its benefits but face to face contact and friendship cannot be replaced.