Our children are our future; our seniors are our foundation (Wissel L. 2000).
Fifty five million Americans are age fifty five and older, according to the United States Census Bureau, of that number, thirty five million are age sixty five and older. By the year 2030, the sixty five and older population will double to seventy million, and the fastest growing segment of the older population is age eighty five and older. The baby boomer generation will soon reach the retirement age, and expected to redefine old age. Just as they have redefine every stage of their lives because boomers will be the largest generation of elderly, they will impact everything from housing to health care as the market and society caters to their wealth, longevity, and interest in new technology (Dytchweld K. 1999). The baby boomer generations also the first to have the luxury to examine personal issues and raise questions concerning work, health care, technology, politics, and social and moral issues (USA Today Magazine, November 19, 1999).
No other generation reflects the complex world we live in today. The baby boomers have left their indelible mark on Americas social landscape. The baby boomers created pop culture and a new form of political activism (Breaux J. November 1999). Education, medical advances, and technology afforded more freedom and independence. Soon America will look different; the average age of the population will go up to fifty-five. The baby boomers will have the benefits and face the challenges of longevity. Can America afford the social, medical, and political issues the aging baby boomers demand? Will our transportation system ensure more old drivers have safe alternatives? How will our national housing policy adapt to the senior boom? How about the pension and financial plans that allow older Americans to move in and out of retirement (Breaux, J. November 1999). The size and distinct characters of the baby boomers will not only create a sense of urgency to current issues, but also create a whole new set of aging issues.
Among the many cultural contributions of the baby boomers along with the free love, the drug scenes and Grateful Dead ties, was the concept of generation gap (Veith G.). In every other culture and throughout history, children were socialized to be adults. When children grew up they took their parents places, roles and their values. There was no separate subculture, no music and fashion to set off the younger generation from their parents. Children were dressed, for the most part, like little adults, but in the mid twentieth century, American culture became stratified along generational lines (Veith G.). The generation prior to the baby boomers, after World War II, had extra ordinary prosperity and better living through technology, may have spoiled their children a little. The baby boomer generation never concentrated on learning their parents skills and disciplines, but worked hard on entertaining themselves. This process was helped along with not only television, but perhaps even more importantly radios and record players, which made possible the mass production and nationwide distribution of music (Veith G.)
The baby boom generation has always been in the spotlight reshaping every American institution. As children, the public school systems were reinvented to meet their needs. As young adults, music and pop culture was drastically changed by their participation. As they move towards old age, they will also redefine and revolutionize the American aging experience. Baby boomers have reaped the benefits of change. They grew up with more education and high expectations, technology and medical research have blossomed throughout their lives and they have come to expect lifestyle improvements in every turn. With their political clout, they will expect the government, corporate America, the research community and the health care sector to meet their growing needs. Government policies should encourage private sector investments in products and services to help the needs of the aging baby boomers and reflect the diversity in lifestyle, race and income of the future senior citizens.
For the last few decades the influential baby boomer segment of the population dominated the American culture virtually in any aspect. Television programming may not specifically target baby boomers, but since baby boomers fit into the prime eighteen to forty nine year old or