World’s Oldest Blogger
Elder Paper Chase

The Emerging Elder Generation Gap

category_bug_ageism.gif It’s kind of funny until you put more thought to it – that a late-life generation gap is turning up between baby boomers and their elders. Newly-arrived 60-year-olds at retirement communities are at odds with long-time residents who are 75, 80 and 90. At Rossmoor, in Walnut Creek, California, Dick Hayes, 71, who was once the president of the Residents Association, explains:

“I think there is an attempt, and it may be subtle and unconscious, to get rid of the 80- and 90-year olds.”
SFgate.com, 27 February 2007

Marjorie Murray, president of the nonprofit Center for California Homeowners Association Law, quoted in the same news story, concurs:

“The message is: Retirement ain’t what it used to be…Everybody is going to be tap dancing and jumping on trampolines. Boards and property managers are re-engineering senior communities as destination resorts and health clubs. Senior homeowners who need wheelchairs don’t fit this marketing plan.

“Boards and management companies want to upgrade the amenities…to market to the next generation of retirees. To finance improvements, they saddle current residents with huge bills they can’t pay.”

And force some, who cannot afford the increased monthly cost, to leave – after 15 or 20 or 25 years in their homes. In addition to expanding fitness centers, adding Pilates classes and championship golf courses, some services required by older residents are being eliminated. At Rossmoor, a service that helped elders get up the stairs to their second-floor apartments has been discontinued.

The massive number of baby boomers now beginning to retire is going to put a lot of pressure on existing retirement communities to change their styles to suit younger elders. But management companies will need to be careful to not fall over the edge into abuse of older residents. And make no mistake, suddenly increasing monthly maintenance by hundreds of dollars for people on fixed incomes to pay a loan for a new golf course is abuse. Even more so is eliminating necessary physical aids.

This is the first news story I’ve seen about the rivalry developing between different elder age groups, but it will not be the last. Baby boomers have spent a lifetime bending the culture to their point of view and they won’t stop now. But to use the force of their numbers to change the rules at retirement villages should not and cannot involve removing the help to those who need it. And, doing so is likely to backfire on them, as 73-year-old John Reppert, who lives at Rossmoor, points out:

“…Reppert suggests that Boomers shouldn’t concentrate too much on aerobic treadmills, tennis and softball. Sooner than they think, they may be the ones who will be needing help.

“’People come here with the idea of growing old gracefully and then having a heart attack while they sleep,’ Reppert says. ‘But the reality is that 90 percent are going to face some kind of debilitating illness.’”

Several decades ago, when the phrase “generation gap” first made its appearance, it defined only the social, cultural and political differences between parents and children. Today’s emerging elder generation gap is more serious and could become deadly to the oldest elders.


Comments

the divide has been growing in the media since older boomers hit 65. yarn magazines and publishers, already aiming at knitters under-30 with "hip" as the buzzword are now marketing to "boomer-grannies." blogged about this on february 11, "Boomer & Senior Grannies Unite!"

Do we (BB's) bend culture?

Oh, but you love us! For sure, we love ourselves *grin*

It is unfortunate that people of my generation, weaned on instant gratification and indulgence, are not more familiar with karma since "honor thy father and thy mother" seems to leave them unmoved.

Sigh . . . .gas me now.
On the other hand. . .a hand gun!
You'll never take me alive!!
Getting a grip. . ."Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing dismay you. All things pass..." St. Teresa of Avila

This reminds me of something I first noticed years ago. I was talking with two people, both were about the same age, lets say around 70, then when I was alone with one of them, that person referred to the other person as being so old, like they weren’t anywhere near that old. And I’ve seen that on several occasions since then. It’s like they see other people as aging and “old,” but not themselves. Does that make sense?

So, after reading your post, the thought came to mind of how people within one societal group will discriminate against its “own.” Like when women don’t think women professionals are as knowledgeable/skilled as a man in the same profession. It’s extremely subtle, nearly imperceptible, but there. The old discriminating against the old. The “young old” discriminating against the “old old.” Is it a way people have of keeping at a distance that which scares them, i.e., becoming “really old” and frail??

I noticed how few comments were left for your post yesterday—about the worlds oldest blogger. As I write this, there were only two comments; that seems low to me, why is that?

I think this is a very important issue, that of the up-and-coming old, being insensitive to those older than themselves. I would like to hear more on this subject. Thanks Ronnie.

Cindy says "I noticed how few comments were left for your post yesterday—about the worlds oldest blogger. As I write this, there were only two comments; that seems low to me, why is that?"

Maybe, like me, they went straight to Olives site, leaving a message of encouragement for her ;-). I hope I have that much spirit in another 50 years.

My grandparents lived and died at Rossmore. I remember that place as a nice community where elders could live their lives, not wait to die nor try to live like their grandchildren.

Fast forward. Last year I had the opportunity to see the old homestead. Wouldn't recognize it. Fast track indeed! This place is building as fast as possible, right up the hillsides, and putting in all these Younger ammenties without thought to what will soon be a problem for those who 1. cannot afford to stay or 2. will soon be unable to ambulate.

My generation is surely screwed in the head.

I too went immediately to Olive's site and left a message of encouragement for her.

Just yesterday in the Florida Sun-Sentinel there was an article about what country clubs in Florida are planning to do to attract the Baby Boomers. Bigger spas, fitness centers and restaurants.
The feeling seems to be that if they do not upgrade in a big way, they will lose the Baby Boomer market.
Residents of some of the country clubs fear the proposed upgrades are extravagant and the cost of maintaining the larger amenities will escalate.

When I was growing up I had a handful of toys and was happy with what I had. The Baby Boomers had all kinds of toys growing up and now that they are nearing retirement they want everything and than some.

For retirees living on a fixed income all these major renovations are bound to hit them in the pocketbook.

Millie wrote: "The Baby Boomers had all kinds of toys growing up and now that they are nearing retirement they want everything and than some."

Well, I'm a boomer (circa 1949), and as a child I didn't have a fraction of the "stuff" my grandkids do today. Makes me wonder what *their* retirement communities will be like in 2065! Hopefully I won't be around to see...

Blame the misguided "youth culture" for the prevailing attitude. No matter how hard we try to stop the hands of time it still marches on. It never gets better and each year takes it's toll. The Boomers better enjoy their toys while they can because may not be long before the treadmill is replaced by a walker.

Now that I'm 70 I'm in a stage of my life very different from the years when I turned 60. Then I was more or less working fulltime, living in London, unfussed by age even tho' I had had 2 hip replacements.

Now I'm happy to have a quieter and more reflective pace, use crutches, spend times with my grandchildren and most of all spend time reflecting and writing.

I can't imagine, though, wanting to live in a place where everyone else was over 60! many of my friends and relations are younger than me.

Not too long ago, I thought I'd made a great discovery in the realization that since more and more people were joining me in my doddering old age (I'm now 88), surely it would not be long before home builders would see the benefit of incorporating aids (ramps, shower hand-holds . . .) in their structures; supermarkets would remove heavy jars from the top shelves and place them within reach of shrinking elders; computer programmers would stop combining business applications with programs we elders could use - there are now so many of us, I thought surely the commercial powers that be would see the financial benefits of catering to us.
I was wrong. These days, reading AARP publications is more like picking up something like Women's Day at the dentist's office. The world seems to be leaving the older elders behind, although it's not as if the world had paid a lot of attention up to now.

"At Rossmoor, a service that helped elders get up the stairs to their second-floor apartments has been discontinued."

What sort of retirement community doesn't have lifts? (I'm assuming they haven't taken them out!)

My parents both died suddenly of acute illnesses while in their early 70's. They seemed in the prime of their lives, traveling, golfing, gardening. As I see their siblings and friends, now in their early 80's, I am shocked at how old they've gotten. It reminds me that if we don't get old, it means we died.

The reason we are called BB is that there are a lot of us. As we reach our 60's most of us are proud of the way we've aged. In 20 years, those of us still here will be old. There's just no way around it. Mortality will overcome even positive thinking, health foods and exercise. We ought to be building the kind of retirement communities that we'll want to live in then, instead of the kind we want to live in now.

If you join a retirement community of any type, better read the fine print in the contract, really, really, carefully. Might be a good idea to let an attorney and an accountant go over it with you.

The life care for all stages that was once so attractive and generously included is the province of only the older elders who signed up then. Health care reimbursements, many other changes in cost factors have altered that whole picture.

As for me, I'd rather see more emphasis in helping individuals remain in their own homes, or living arrangements; have home delivery for items needed, transportation in the community, a large variety of activities in the community, opportunities to be involved with people of a variety of age groups and more. This is possible, is present some places, is viable other places if there is a will. Also means a realignment of Medicare/Medicaid focus.

For a few months, at age 42, I was allowed to live in an apartment complex reserved to the elder crowd. I was the youngest person there, and I can tell you it was the most blissful living I've ever had. The residents were all wonderful to me. There was no "generation gap" even between me and those who were twice my age. Me thinks that there are just so darned many people that each person feels that s/he must struggle to live her/his life--regardless of the fact that the struggle may cause others to drown in the waves. Over-population isn't for sissies.

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