Yes, defining who exactly fits into the senior category these days is not entirely clear, since some organizations start to apply this label to people as early as age 50. Others, including some government offices, pick 55, others go with 60, 62 or even 65, based on different actions and certain milestones such as fully activating one’s retirement benefits or beginning to withdraw from retirement accounts.
The team at Accredited Home Care isn’t entirely sure either when someone officially moves from middle-age to senior status either, but instead, we like to think of this time of life more as a state of mind!
Since everyone is different in terms of their physical and mental health as they “wrap up their 50s and enter their 60s,” (is that better?) it’s hard to paint everyone with the same brush.
But that’s sort of the point – everyone is unique, and people in this age range can potentially have many decades of adventures and experiences ahead of them as a senior. Plus, people sometimes are done with their careers and adventures in child-raising so they have even more time to enjoy other pursuits.
Some take the opportunity to travel more, some look for ways to volunteer more in their communities, some take classes, others head into the workforce again, this time to try something new and different. But there may also be a different point of view: instead of needing to work to feed one’s family or build up a retirement nest egg, a job now could be more about enjoying social interaction, making ‘play’ money, creating a routine for your week or even getting a little exercise.
Even if someone’s health isn’t that great as a senior anymore and they have to stay at home or at least close to home, they can still find ways to find and pursue some of their passions and enjoy new opportunities or return to favorite activities form the past. They can reach out to friends and family online. They can look into other creative pursuits, such as art, crafts, gardening or even cooking.
Some people even take the opportunity to get into politics in new ways – many of those pursuing presidential campaigns, including current President Donald Trump, are in their 60s or 70s. Talk about remaining active!
Seniors can be a great babysitter or even a tutor for kids or adults. They could provide care to other seniors, especially if they have medical or nursing backgrounds. Maybe they could be a ride-share driver – this also provides social interaction without a lot of activity required – just driving people where they need to go, or picking up their orders from restaurants and delivering to them.
The bigger picture
According to the United Nations, there are just about 700 million people over the age 60 in the whole world, a number that is expected to grow significantly in the next few decades.
By 2050, that number is supposed to rise to 2 billion, representing more than 20 percent of the planet’s total population. The over-60 population is also speculated to be the largest fastest-growing group in developing countries. Africa and Asia are especially expected to have higher numbers of elderly.
U.S. Census numbers also paint a similar picture at a domestic level. In a 2018 report, the Census projects that by 2030 there will be more people in the “older” category than the “child category,” a dramatic demographic shift.
Already, there are indications that the number of people over age 65 is higher than the number of people under age 65. The survey split the “Senior” group into age 65-74, 75-84 and 85 and older. The age 65-74 group is currently the largest.
Females make up the largest amount of the 85 and older group.
So why is this shift happening? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
There are several theories on why this trend is appearing – people are generally living longer due to better health care and more healthy options. At the same time, the birthrate is declining which means there are fewer children being born, further increasing the proportion of seniors to juniors.
Census information also points out other factors regarding the modern senior, including that they are less likely to live in traditional family units, like several generations under one roof. Instead, many seniors live alone or as couples, but enjoy being connected through email and social networking.
Besides being kind of interesting, at least demographically, what can be done with this information? Plenty! The U.N. encourages people around the world to take the opportunity learn about the elderly in their local communities.
It has declared Oct. 1 to be the official International Day of Old Persons and encouraged people around the world to take action to recognize the role of the elderly. This can include looking at problems facing today’s seniors, as well as looking for ways to involve seniors to use their wisdom and experience to try and tackle other local and global problems.