The longevity revolution

March 23, 2010

The UN has said that population aging is "transforming the world." Now that a large portion of the world population is joining the ranks of the "baby boomers," the phenomenon is permeating many areas of life, including the economic, medical, moral, political, and social. In the U.S., as of 2008 (the last time data was collected), the number of persons 65 or older came to 38.9 million. The Administration on Aging predicts that by 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000.

Is this phenomenon negative or positive? In a new article in the journal Political Insight (launching April 2010), John Benyon, Director of Research at the Institute of Lifelong Learning at the University of Leicester, argues that it is an opportunity, "Lifelong learning can play a pivotal role in helping aging people and their loved ones to live independent and fulfilling lives. The mindset that getting older is the end of the enjoyment of life is now passé."

In the present day, future retirees need to plan for their retirement more carefully, and companies are becoming less apt to offer pension plans, and post-retirement planning resources. The ability to understand financial and legal matters, and make well-informed consumer choices, is absolutely vital. Additionally, older people are expected to contribute to the nation's economy up to and beyond the normal retirement age (usually 65).

These obstacles are real, and can be discouraging to older adults and their families. However, when older people reach out to develop new skills and interests, and understand social, political and technological changes, Benyon asserts that they feel less overwhelmed and isolated, and may fare better in today's economy and society.

The study shows that many educational needs of older people are not being met, and that opportunities and participation have dropped off in recent years. Benyon points out, "Although much has been written on the growing older population, very little has been discussed in terms of public policy and politics. In our research, we identify the various issues that come with a larger population of older people, and suggest solutions to key policy questions in order to promote stronger, cohesive communities. Many continue to play a positive role in the community through dedicated volunteering. We hope that in the future they can take an even bigger role, and even be elected to local office more commonly."

Explore further: Home health shortages seen for boomers

More information: "The Longevity Revolution." John Benyon. Political Insight ; Published Online: March 15, 2010; DOI:10.1111/j.2041-9066.2010.00010.x

Related Stories

Home health shortages seen for boomers

September 27, 2006

The in-home caregiver shortage in the United States is expected to worsen and cities aren't ready for aging baby boomers' health needs, two reports show.

Sweden's early baby boom provides lessons for US

June 26, 2007

Sweden, like much of Scandinavia, is known for its high quality care for older adults. Most importantly, the system helps to keep older adults independent. With the growing demand brought on by aging baby boomers however, ...

New study examines memory, learning and aging

August 20, 2007

Many older people complain about their memory as they age. With almost 35 million adults age 65 or older living in the United States, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Nutrition services for older adults at home and in communities

March 8, 2010

The Society for Nutrition Education (SNE) has partnered with the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and American Society for Nutrition (ASN) to publish a position paper, "Position of the American Dietetic Association, American ...

Older = happier

March 8, 2010

( -- UCI's Susan Turk Charles attributes study finding to seniors' ability to better regulate emotion.

Recommended for you

The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

October 13, 2015

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.