Super Seniors are forcing society worldwide
to rethink the concept of ageing and retirement.
Who are these Super Seniors,
what are the challenges they are facing,
and why should we even be talking about the future of old age,
and an age-ready nation?
To understand why today’s baby boomers are morphing into super seniors, we first need to take a brief look at the parents of baby boomers. The current elder generation grew up in the Depression, and fought in World War II. They were highly regarded, and honour and duty were paramount to them in terms of family, community and country. They did a good job when planning for old age in that they learnt to be thrifty post-war and this cautious outlook saw them entering their later years with savings accounts, homes paid off and a little cushion against a rainy day (who knew inflation would hit so hard?). They experienced a hard and painful generation gap between themselves and their offspring.
Today’s Baby Boomer grew up post World War II. They are a forever young generation whose experiences consisted of Beatlemania and Woodstock. Baby Boomers grew up in a world of prosperity and advertising, making more money than their parents, spending more on life experiences, living freely on credit cards and spending on entertainment, travelling, products and appliances. Baby boomers have a longer life expectancy in comparison to their parents and are mostly bucking against retiring in their 60s. Regrettably, baby boomers have not been as financially cautious as their parents, and the issue of longevity does present unique needs.
As the global population continues to age at a rapid rate, Super Seniors are forcing society worldwide to rethink what it means to age. It is simply not sustainable to ignore the fact that today’s Super Seniors could live in excess of thirty years in retirement. These 30 odd years need to be productive. If they are not, then the cost of maintaining a rapidly growing older population will have devastating effects on the world in general, and particularly, the younger generation, who will not be in a position to support the older generation if they are unable to sustain themselves.
It is up to the Super Senior generation to bring about the revolution of changing the retirement concept. Super Seniors are redefining the meaning of ageing and would welcome active participation in society, in the world of work, and in politics. Workplace flexibility does not mean the clogging up of the workplace and depriving youngsters of their role in the world of work. Dismantling the retirement concept means staggered retirements, and creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, consultants, temporary and part-time workers.
Joe is a 68-year old Super Senior. He says: “When my grandfather was nearing his seventies, his used a walking stick and was shuffling around. Luckily I am completely different. I am completely fit and healthy, have my own business and have worked hard to get to this point. And I plan to stay this way”.
Super Senior will live longer lives
Super Seniors are generally healthier, and have a more active lifestyle in comparison to their parents at this age. Super Seniors are living longer, display higher levels of physical, mental and emotional fitness than the previous generation and many plan to retire beyond their 60s. They love life and in conjunction with this, love to travel, spend more on entertainment, and dining out. They have worked hard all their lives. They have been diligent, hard workers, and damn, they are going to enjoy their retirement – later! Many are still working full or part-time, and look forward to life as an empty-nester and fulfilling their dreams.
Super Seniors are part of a big audience
The Super Senior is part of the largest generation of all time, which makes it the largest segment of consumers in the world! Marketers should be paying attention to Super Seniors and creating effective marketing strategies that will reach them.
Super Seniors are more tech-savvy than you think…
Don’t forget that super seniors are part of the baby boomer generation that invented the computer! They were around during the advent of the first black and white, and then colour TVS! They have grown up with technology over several decades, and are very accustomed to technology although they may use it differently to millennials. They are regularly online, using search engines, email, doing online shopping, reading blogs, watching YouTube videos and skyping children and grandchildren all over the world. There are over 1 million over-60 South Africans on Facebook!!
Super Senior are part of the “me generation”
Today’s Super Senior wants to enjoy their independence and freedom for as long as possible. They want to maintain their dignity, be able to work for as long as possible, enjoy their children and grandchildren and have lots of fun. Fun being the operative word.
Terminology is key to Super Seniors
60 is the new 50 and Super Seniors don’t see themselves as an ageing population. Be careful what you call them! Don’t dare to call them ageing and elderly – that’s a big no-no! The terms “senior” and “senior citizen” aren’t quite as big a turn-off!
The challenges of Super Seniors
Due to the longevity of ageing baby boomers, the health care system will be challenged and will need to be reshaped, and Super Seniors need to take charge of their wellness with a greater focus on staying fit, eating healthily, and exercising the brain.
Some of the health challenges that are anticipated
By 2030, more than one in six Super Seniors will be managing more than one chronic condition
One out of two Super Seniors will be living with arthritis
One out of four Super Seniors will be living with diabetes.
Knee replacements will become more prevalent
Financial challenges that are anticipated
Less financial resources
Super Seniors will have to become creative in an attempt to work longer
Super Seniors may have to use their nest eggs to support their parents, adult children and possibly even grandchildren
In conclusion, South Africa cannot ignore the ageing demographic. With pension schemes and healthcare under pressure, the economy – locally and globally – is under strain. If we don’t accept the new reality, work with the challenges, and build an age-ready nation, we risk a social convulsion and a division of generations which will be hard to heal. Super Seniors need to capitalize on the third part of our lives making them as active as possible – in society, as well as in the world of work. The future of old age is the future for everyone.
Ken Dychtwald, President and CEO of Age Wave, author of 16 books on ageing, and one of the foremost thinkers on the subject of ageing.
Health Design.Org – link