Editor’s Word: America’s population is aging

As a nation, we are getting older. 

That reality touches just about every area of American life. Everything from new razor blades that are designed to help shave another person to remote patient monitoring and innovative health care delivery systems are just a couple of the new offerings for an aging population.

By 2030, according to Jennifer Ortman, chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Projections, 20 percent of the population will be age 65 or older, including all Baby Boomers (the youngest will be 84 in 2030). Baby Boomers, age 65 and up, numbered 77 million in 2011. That number is projected to drop to 60 million by 2030 and to around 2.4 million by 2060 (when the youngest baby boomers will be 96). Obviously, as Baby Boomers age and die, the population numbers for that demographic decrease.

Even though life expectancy has slightly decreased in the United States the past three years, Americans are still living longer than even 10 years ago. Several factors influence the average life expectancy: cancer, heart disease, smoking, strokes, kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, accidents, suicides, drug overdoses, premature deaths, lack of health care, etc. Disability rates have decreased, and increasingly more healthy individuals may have the opportunity to live three decades, or even longer, after reaching age 65.

The “silver economy” is estimated to be at least $15 trillion! Older Americans typically have more money, and more money can be made in targeting them for various services and products. In less than 20 years, older adults are projected to outnumber children for the first time in American history. At present, adults 65 and over are increasing, while youth under age 18 are decreasing.

Some are calling 80 the new 60. U.S. News & World Report observed that 75 is the new 65. The point is that many people will have the opportunity to live much longer than their ancestors. The question is what will we do with this time? George Burns once wrote, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.”

Moses was 80 and his brother Aaron 83 when they stood before Pharaoh. They were on the threshold of their greatest work.

The danger in getting old is the temptation to think backward instead of forward. Memories are great, but making memories is even better. When we are yearning for the good old days, or even subjectively comparing a period of time in the past we thought was better than today, we are losing sight of the present in which we live. That is usually counterproductive. Ecclesiastes 7:10 says, “Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.”

Our obedience to God is more important than our age. Many of us are in the fourth quarter of life, but we are still alive. We have today, and that is the only place we can live — and the only way we can live effectively is one day at a time. Many of you reading this are like me, a Baby Boomer. Now is not the time to quit or rest in the past, but to focus on the present and the privilege of living today. Psalm 71:18 says, “Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Thy strength to this generation, Thy power to all who are to come.”

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Those who love deeply never grow old; They may die of old age, but they die young.”

Let me encourage you to use the time you have to focus on Christ, obey His truth, and love the people He puts in your life. Do it all in a manner that honors Jesus. I think it is a sure way to reduce regrets forever!