For some boomers – the lucky ones – this is a time of freedom and opportunity. Having retired from paid employment, with pensions in hand and generally good health, they can enjoy their families (especially if they have grandchildren), spend time with friends, travel, volunteer, and cultivate hobbies. That tends to be the picture of aging that is most often promoted in the media – along with advice about keeping fit in order to maintain this lifestyle for as long as possible.
But of course, that’s only a partial picture. It leaves out all those who are not so lucky – those with health problems, those who struggle financially, those who don’t have supportive friends or families, those whose lives are difficult in other ways. And it fails to address the simple fact that, unless death comes first, that potentially independent and healthy stage will end, even for the lucky ones. The “young old” will become very old, and life will change again.
People in their 60s and 70s in Canada today are aging in a world dramatically different from the world their parents knew. Families aren’t the same – more of us are divorced, more of us don’t have children, and the children we do have may live far away. Communities are different too. Many of us don’t know our neighbours, more of us live alone, and while modern communications technology and social media help keep us in touch with distant friends and family, virtual connections can only do so much.
So what will life be like for boomers, growing even older (and never before in such numbers) in this changing world? Who will be in their lives, to care for them, and care about them? What kinds of networks, and communities, will be available to support them? More importantly, what kinds of networks and communities should be available, to make the global, universal experience of old age more meaningful and rewarding – for everyone? These are the questions this project takes up.
Help in finding answers is coming from many sources. But the best information is coming from those who are living the questions – boomers who are at this life stage, with wisdom and experience to share. They will be contributing to a book about themselves – one that digs deep into current realities, and also looks ahead at what’s to come.