A recent article on aged care by Jennene Buckley, CEO of Queensland aged care and smart technology provider, Feros Care, declared that aged care is an issue for all generations, not just the aged.
Jennene’s contention is that, although only seven per cent of Australians are likely to eventually reside in aged care accommodation, the delivery, funding and debate about aged care concerns each and every generation personally, corporately and politically.
And this reflection can be extrapolated across nearly every aspect of life in retirement. The experience of YOURLifeChoices website over the years has been that Gen X and Y are just as concerned about issues for older Australians as baby boomers and seniors.
With more than 6 million Australians now aged 50 and over, this high proportion of the population deserves special attention and consideration. But to lump all 50+ Australians into one category is simply ridiculous and does a disservice to all.
With more than 2600 centenarians, the lives of those aged 50 and over span 50 years. So it would be as silly to regard the 50+ audience as homogenous as it is to regard those aged between one year and 50 as having/possessing the same values, attitudes and needs.
When discussing demographics, however, what is more interesting is to consider the common values and similarities of need and concern between generations, rather than hyped up differences. Why? The cynical may ask. The answer is fairly simple.
Remember the opening scene in the film Love Actually, where the narrator tells us if we despair of modern society, we should simply take a trip to the nearest airport to see and feel the love on display between family, friends and lovers? This emotion, too is the foundation of intergenerational solidarity when it comes to issues and challenges facing older Australians. It’s love, actually.
It is impossible to discuss the plight of underfunded retirees, or out-of-work boomers, or homeless seniors, without touching the nerve of a daughter, son, niece, nephew, or grandchild somewhere. And younger relatives care passionately about the downsides of outliving your savings.
On the more positive side, they also celebrate older friends and relatives who are kicking butt by ageing gracefully, taking risks, embracing new challenges, including diving into the turbulent currents of online dating.
So perhaps this is a wake-up call for all of us, particularly those who claim demographic ‘expertise’, to take off our intergenerational blinkers for a moment and to consider the challenges of policy for an ageing Australia from a perspective which embraces infants, teenagers, 20- and 30-somethings as well as those entering their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.