Thursday, January 27, 2011

Redesigning Life, Reinventing Retirement

There's a move underway to make life safer, easier, and more healthy - and who do we have to thank?

Baby Boomers - because they're getting older.

When January 1 rolled around this year, the first Baby Boomers turned 65 - and will continue every 7 seconds for the next 18 years. I fit that category - I was born in 1958 - so you might say I have a personal interest in it! Here are a few noteworthy developments:
  • Boeing, the airplane manufacturer, is improving in-flight design and comfort for aging passengers. Pete Guard, cabin-experience strategy leader, says "As Boomers age, their vision, mobility, and hearing may become a challenge, but the last thing we want is to make them seem less than capable - they're an independent group." On-tap: easier-to-open lavatory doors, redesigned overhead compartment latches, and thinner, lightweight seats allowing more leg room.
  • Volvo, already known for making one of the world's safest cars, is studying the driving habits of the aging to develop cars that will keep them - and other drivers - safe. Thomas Broberg, senior safety advisor, says "Because Boomers are living longer and healthier than any previous generation, there will be more of them driving longer. The misperception is that older adults are involved in more accidents; they're not - they just have different reactions." One solution? Build cars with senses: they recognize a potential collision and apply the brakes if necessary.
  • General Mills is boosting Boomer's health by creating engaging and interactive communities online. Marc Belton, EVP of global strategy, growth, and marketing innovation says "People like to talk about themselves and be a part of a story. One of our websites asks consumers to submit their favorite unhealthy recipes, and our team will healthify them."
It's really impressive to see Corporate America step up to the line and lead the way in innovation for the huge segment of our population known as the Baby Boomers. But their motives are at least in some part driven by the enormous potential market share - as a group, the Boomers have over $2 trillion worth of annual spending power.

What about ChurchWorld?

Amy Hanson, noted speaker, consultant, and author in the area of aging adult ministry, has some great thoughts about what she calls "the new old."
  • The new old are reinventing retirement - a recent survey by Merrill Lynch found that 76% of Boomers want to keep working in some fashion during retirement. They want their retirement years to include a component of work that is significant.
  • Not all older adults are Christians - think of the characteristics of adults who are 50 and older: caring for aging parents, concerns about their own health, financial worries, and continually evolving relationships with their own adult children and grandchildren. These life transitions provide communities of faith huge opportunities to reach out, engage, and share the Gospel with them.
  • Aging Boomers have the potential to make a tremendous Kingdom impact with their lives - they have time, experience, and resources and they want to participate in purposeful endeavors that will benefit others.
The challenge is there. The corporate world has stepped up and is gearing toward innovating and engaging the new old.

Where are you, church?

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