How California adapts to aging
“The generation that is aging is one of the largest generation ever, at least in the United States and in most of the developed world, the boomers. As those people are pushed out of the market place, the next generation is much smaller. There is not enough people to fill the jobs in most of the developed world. The dynamic is going to shift because our populations are not growing as fast anymore. There will be more elders than youngsters. And if you’re not leveraging those elders, who’s doing the work?
Gretchen Addi is a designer and a consultant working on aging and longevity matters, she was one of the VP of IDEO, the famous design agency, helping organizations to adapt to aging. When we met in San Francisco, she talked to us about the opportunities linked to the demographic transition and how to inspire change toward a senior-friendly society.
Adaptation of the society to aging: how would you describe the current situation?
With aging we see somewhat the same thing happening than with sustainability.
Obviously now, sustainability, green building and all of these issues are a priority but at the beginning everyone said “interesting but more a nice-to-have than a must-have”.
In the aging space, we’re still trying to figure out where the market is and many companies don’t see it as a priority yet. We’re in the early stages, I don’t think we’ve reached the tipping point yet in terms of making the kind of changes that really are necessary for a population shift in demand.
Adaptation to aging is a large-scale requirement, because a larger proportion of our population will be over the age of 60. And that’s not just a trend, that’s going to be the way forward, because we’re giving people the opportunity to live longer. This really requires more massive change in our social system and in all aspects of our life, because age touches everything, whether in education or in retail or in the government…
Big change is hard but we have to think differently, and accept what the data and the numbers very clearly have said for a long time. Demographics are very predictable but a lot of those systems or markets still are defined by old models that really don’t apply anymore.
Those who do - UNITED STATES
Pensioners mobilized in school
In the United States, volunteer retirees help children to master and learn English. "Most of these students do not speak English at home, but here they have the opportunity to read, to make mistakes, to learn how to communicate, and the long-term goal is them to succeed in high school."
Aging in United-States - LOS ANGELES
James & Inja, the most glamorous couple in Hollywood
"When we bought the house, I did not even see that there were Hollywood letters on the hill opposite." James is African-American, Inja is South Korean. They married in South Korea at a time when "mixed" unions were banned in the United States. Now based in Los Angeles, right in the heart of Hollywood, they welcome travelers every day with a good dose of humor and grilled bacon.
those who do - united-states
The art of active aging
"Art is the best way to make aging cool"
In California, Tim Carpenter has developed a model of senior residences where life is enriched by the arts. Poetry, painting, theater and dance are the daily life of the inhabitants of these subsidized housing "Senior Arts Colony".