Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Health Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis
If you’re not aware, there is a significant social movement exploding today. You will read about it, hear it on the news and see signs of it in government policy and legislation. Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., psychologist, gerontologist, author of 16 books, filmmaker, and CEO of Age Wave has authored a compelling article called, “Will the Aging of America be a Triumph or Tragedy?” I suggest you google it. It can be ignored or embraced, but the facts are astounding. Two-thirds of all the people who have ever lived past the age of 65 in the entire history of the world are alive today. When our Constitution was crafted, the average life expectancy was 36, and the median age was a mere 16. Today we live in a “gerontocracy” where 10,000 baby boomers turn 70 every day! Today 42 percent of the entire federal budget is spent on Medicare and Social Security, and by 2030 it will be 50 percent.
Ironically when the Social Security Act was signed in 1935, the average American could expect to live 62 years, and 42 workers were paying for each recipient. Legislators were playing the odds that most citizens would never draw it by setting the entitlement age at 65. Today the average life expectancy is 79 and still rising, and the number of supporting workers is plummeting. Basic math tells us we are in trouble. The issues of senior healthcare, elder poverty, declining birth rates, and ageism should be at the forefront of our daily conversations. This is certainly a political issue, but it is not a partisan one. Historically our concern was that the Red Coats were coming; today, the “Grey Heads” are here! When you step back to consider the impact the age wave will have, it may cause issues such as immigration and international politics to pale.