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Wednesday, 21 Feb 2018

Teaching Gerontology, January 2011

In this issue:

- Boomers Turn 65
- Living Longer but Doing Worse?
- Population Aging: Good or Bad?
- Who's Saving for Retirement?
- The Great Recession and the Older Population
- From Rules to Caring Practices
- Web Sites to See
- Critical Thinking about Higher Education



Big news!  This just in! "Boomers turn 65"  True, this event was entirely predictable, so maybe it’s not really news.  Still, the oldest Boomer did turn 65 on January first, and this milestone has prompted lots of attention and coverage.

For a good place to take the measure of this event, see "Baby Boomers Approach 65 - Glumly" issued by the Pew Research Center on Social and Demographic Trends. Among the major conclusions, fully 80% of Boomers say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going today, compared with 60% of those ages 18 to 29; 69% of those ages 30 to 45 and 76% of those 65 and older.

Why are they so unhappy?  Boomers are less likely than other age groups to say they have made progress in life when they compare themselves to their own parents -- and also less likely than other age groups to say they expect their children to enjoy a better standard of living than their own.  Boomers have also lost more money in the Great Recession than any other group.

To read the full Pew Report, visit: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1834/baby-boomers-old-age-downbeat-pessimism

A recent AARP survey of the oldest Boomers turning 65 in 2011, however, finds this first wave of the boomer generation generally satisfied with their lives and optimistic about the
next third of life.  The contrast with the Pew findings may reflect a different sampling frame, among other factors. For more on the AARP findings, visit: http://www.aarp.org/personal-growth/transitions/info-12-2010/approaching-65.html

By the time all Baby Boomers turn 65 in 2030, 18% of the nation's population will be at least that old, whereas today, 13% of Americans are ages 65 and older.



We've long aspired to "compression of morbidity" (postponing illness later and later) but is it really happening?

"We have always assumed that each generation will be healthier and longer lived than the prior one... The growing problem of lifelong obesity and increases in hypertension and
high cholesterol among cohorts reaching old age are a sign that health may not be improving with each generation... We do not appear to be moving to a world where we die without experiencing disease, functioning loss, and disability."

-Eileen M. Crimmins
and Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez

(For more see, "Mortality and Morbidity Trends: Is There Compression of Morbidity?" by Eileen M. Crimmins and Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez,in JOURNALS OF GERONTOLOGY: Series B, 66B:1, pp. 75-86).



Ted Fishman, an astute journalist, has a new book out, SHOCK OF GRAY (Simon and Schuster, 2010), which comes with the subtitle "The Aging of the World's Population and How it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation."  I liked the book but I wondered about that subtitle: why so negative?  It seems we have a deep and persistent fear about population aging, which brings both challenges and opportunities.  For a countervailing, and more optimistic view, see the late Robert Butler's book THE LONGEVITY REVOLUTION: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life (Public Affairs, 2008).

Truth in advertising: I myself wrote a book, ABUNDANCE OF LIFE:Human Development Policies for an Aging Society (Columbia Univ. Press, 1988).  You can tell from the title that I side with the optimists.



We know people aren't saving enough for retirement, but the truth may be even worse than we thought.  For instance, among older workers (those over 55), it turns out that 30%
have more in credit card debt than retirement savings, and 41% have just as much in credit card debt as their retirement savings, according to a 2010 analysis of data from a survey
of unemployed job seekers.

For details and other important facts about older workers, visit the website of the Sloan Center for Aging and Work at Boston College at: http://www.bc.edu/research/agingandwork/facts.html



The University of Michigan Retirement Center has published a new study on "The Effects of the Economic Crisis on the Older Population" by Michael Hurd and Susann Rohwedder.  They conclude that households in and near retirement have suffered significant losses in wealth as a result of the recession. Using longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study they found that

-Average spending declined 8% for those aged 50-64.

-Those over age 65 and older made smaller downward adjustments to spending, suggesting it was less affected by the crisis.

-Workers in their fifties now expect to work longer

-Those who stopped working since 2008 express pessimism about future job opportunities and respondents generally are pessimistic about economic recovery in the near future.

To read the full report, visit: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/dl.cfm?pid=723&type=102



"From Rules To Caring Practices: Ethics and Community-Based Care For Elders" (Produced by The Park Ridge Center). This video presents four brief scenarios that will trigger thought and discussion around the human and emotional issues that are an integral part of home caregiving. Each scenario sheds light on a different aspect of home caregiving. Winner of the Silver Hugo Award for Best Video in the Adult Education Category. 

Available from Terra Nova Films at: http://www.terranova.org/



POVERTY.  See "The Not-So-Golden Years Confronting Elderly Poverty and Improving Seniors’ Economic Security" at: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/09/pdf/not_so_golden_years.pdf

GLOBAL AGING. For a provocative overview, see "Think Again: Global Aging" by Phillip Longman at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/10/11/think_again_global_aging?page=full

SOCIAL SECURITY. "Social Security 75th Anniversary Survey Report: Public Opinion Trends" at: http://www.aarp.org/work/social-security/info-08-2010/social_security_75th.html



Here are some books of interest that should make everyone think more critically about higher education:

WANNABE U: Inside the Corporate University, by Gaye Tuchman (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2009).

HOW THE UNIVERSITY WORKS: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation, by Marc Bousquet (New York University Press, 2008).

EDUCATION'S END: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life, by Anthony Kronman (Yale University Press, 2008).




This electronic newsletter, edited by Harry (Rick) Moody, is published by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) and co-sponsored by the Office
of Academic Affairs at AARP. The information expressed in this newsletter was not composed by AGHE or any member of its staff. To submit items of interest or request subscription
changes, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

**Used With Permission**

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