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Getting older in Boston

Posted by Dana Hatic  July 11, 2013 02:50 PM

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More than 10,000 people in the United States are expected to turn 65 every day through 2030. We’re aging, and we’re starting to adjust our lifestyles and perspectives to accommodate this passage of time. The Greatest Generation, people 68 and older, is getting greater. But are our cities prepared for this change?

People in the US aged 65 and older total over 40 million, and this number is projected to more than double to 89 million by 2050.

Generations United partnered with Pfizer to study just how prepared Bostonians are for getting older and what people expect for their lives as they age. With 10,000 people expected to turn 65 every day until 2030, many want to know how cities can handle the growth of this older generation.

The 2013 Get Old Survey polled Boston residents and gauged people's concerns and thoughts about getting older, the availability of care for seniors, and job security. The organizations also collaborated on a website,, devoted to inviting discussion of these topics.

The survey broke down respondents by generation.

How Do You Want To Get Old?

Eighty-three percent of Boston-area respondents said they expected to live a long life. In this city known for its hospitals, less than one third said they felt the community was prepared to provide appropriate healthcare facilities for older people.

So, what else do those expecting long lives think about getting older in Boston? Well, 72 percent said they believed people who work past retirement age stay healthier and are happier, and they may be right: At a recent conference in Boston, researchers presented a study indicating the correlation between working longer and reducing risk of Alzheimer's.

For people in Boston who expect to work longer and stay healthier, there are factors to consider. About two thirds of respondents in the Get Old Survey said they felt their workplace valued diversity of age, but many feared they wouldn't be able to retire when they planned, and over half worried about not being able to get a new job. The consensus across generations: Boston remains unprepared to provide employment options for older people.

The survey reflected other feelings towards Boston's preparedness: 33 percent of respondents felt the city's transportation options could accommodate older people and 17 percent felt Boston could offer housing for this population.

Though the survey reflects a degree of unease about how Boston can accommodate an expanding elderly population, 77 percent of respondents agreed that seniors today will have a higher quality of life than ever before.

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