Weekly column in the Washington Times Communities by Laurie Edwards-Tate

Every day for the next 20 years, ten-thousand people will turn 65. By the year 2030, one of every five Americans will be 65 or older.

It’s the Silver Tsunami hitting America.

This generation has driven every significant cultural trend for 50 years, defying stereotypes along the way. They made television a necessity instead of a novelty. They made the Beatles famous and changed music forever. They embraced diversity and a whole new set of moral touchstones, not all of them positive.

Baby boomer seniors will not be defined by age or definition (Sean Riley)

Most of all, they face nearly every circumstance affecting them and ask a single question: “Why not?”

These active individuals aren’t the least inclined to give up their interests. Boomers do not want to be isolated or out of the action.

With life expectancy at an all time high of 77.4 years, people have plenty of years ahead to reinvent themselves after 50, and they are. Most expect to keep right on working. In fact, fewer than one in five say they ever see themselves stopping work altogether as they age.

This has enormous consequences for the job market and for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

We’re already seeing the effects on the way Americans work and live.  Three-quarters of baby boomers are working. Baby boomers hold $13 trillion in assets, which is 50 percent of the assets in the U.S. Over two-thirds own a home. They control a lot of spending in this country. Woe be to the industry that ignores the Silver Tsunami. They’ll take their money where they are welcome, thank you, and their money talks in a very loud voice.

And this part may surprise you. Baby Boomers spend several hours online daily, and half ages 50 to 64 use social media such as Facebook and Twitter. That’s 88 percent growth from 2009 to 2010. Baby boomers are the fastest growing users of social media, far ahead of the so-called Millennial generation in their early 20s.

One in four adults age 65 and up are now logging on to social media networks. They’re keeping in touch, socializing, and conducting research. Their use is pretty much like everyone else online.

Boomers might accept a senior discount, but they don’t accept this designation easily. A “senior” is someone much older. They don’t intend to act like their parents did when they hit 65. Perhaps the title “senior” itself is going to fade away, yet another casualty of the baby boomers.

These are active individuals with considerable experience and skills. They’ve made valuable contributions to all sectors of society: business and industry, government, the military, education, religion, entertainment, family and community.

They’re not about to stop now, for they derive enormous pleasure and satisfaction from their efforts. They view their later years as continuing opportunities to contribute by exploring new options, pursuing lifelong learning, sophisticated volunteer activities and civic involvement.

I’m thrilled when people defy expectations about aging.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

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