Page 42 - BusinessWest April 28, 2021
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ting old and admitting some aspects of their
not decades, of talk about a ‘silver tsunami’ have succeeded in casting discussion about the aging Boomers — and, again, she’s a proud, card-carry- ing member of that generation — in often-nega- tive tones.
“This notion of the silver tsunami makes the aging of the population sound like an impending natural disaster over which we have no control that’s going to sweep everything away,” she said. “It feels to me, and most geriatrics leaders, like we’re framing things wrong; we’re setting this up as ‘us versus them’ — us young healthy, productive people against those old people who are going to overrun the system. These people are ... us. They’re our neighbors, our teachers, our relatives.”
That said, a lot of ‘us’ are getting on in years. Indeed, maybe half or more of all Boomers can now get a senior discount at the movies, the golf course, and the pharmacy. And large numbers of them are now over 70, which means many aspects of the healthcare system — from eye care to urol- ogy; orthopedics to hearing care — are certainly already seeing an impact, and it will only grow as more Boomers reach 70, 80, 90, and beyond.
Restating the matter (again, she doesn’t want to classify it as a problem), Brennan said the Baby Boom generation is indeed large (it’s estimated that, by 2035, 10% of the population will be 85 or older; it’s closer to 6% now), and its members are living longer than the generations that preceded them, again, because of better health and better healthcare.
“That’s not a disaster or a tsunami,” she said. “That’s one of the greatest success stories in mod- ern history; people are able to live longer and enjoy their lives better.”
That’s true, but so is what her mother said so
Mary Flahive- Dixon says most Baby Boomers want to age in place, in their own homes.
health have deteriorated.
And that’s why, even though she is generally
seeing more patients than she was years ago, Dr. Susan Bankoski Chunyk, an audiologist, says she’s seeing a continuation of, and perhaps even an exacerbation of, an annoying trend whereby peo- ple will put off seeking help for their hearing years after they acknowledge they have a problem, due to lingering perceptions about hearing aids mak- ing people look old and feeble, even though mod-
“That’s not a disaster or a tsunami. That’s one of the greatest success stories in modern history; people are able to live longer and enjoy their lives better.”
ern technology has changed that landscape. And that’s just one example of why there are
still many question marks about how and to what degree this generation will present challenges and opportunities moving forward.
Age-old Challenges
Before getting into any real detail about the Baby Boom generation and its advancing age, Brennan wanted to set the proper tone for the discussion.
Indeed, she told BusinessWest that years, if
often: that no one gets out of life alive.
“Some period of decline is going to occur for
      virtually all of us — unless we die in our sleep from a funny heart rhythm or get hit by a truck crossing Main Street,” she told BusinessWest. “And the causes of death in recent years have shifted; if you look back 50 or 80 years, the causes of death were frequently things like trauma, infection, death in childbirth — things that take you rather quickly when you were reasonably functional prior to that. That is no longer true. And with the successes we’ve had, and with people living lon- ger, they are increasingly likely to die of multiple progressing chronic diseases.”
What does all this mean? Increasingly, Bren-
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