LIKE many people in their 20s, my tiny brain cannot fathom the concept of growing old.
While I may have some tendencies of a sexa-or-septuagenarian, it is the physical, lifestyle part of age that I cannot comprehend.
Medication for days, stiff joints, early to bed and early to rise – no thank you. Although a blue rinse sounds fantastic.
There is almost an obligation for retirees to sell off their homes, buy a house on wheels and hit the road.
When the roads get too long and the highway stretches without an end in sight, it’s into a unit – probably at one of those lifestyle villages where everyone looks impossibly cheerful.
Weeks stretching ahead punctured only by Tuesday night bingo and virgin mimosa Sundays.
The baby boomers cop a lot of flack but there is one thing Generation X, Y and so on can thank them for: changing the face of old age.
Children are crying foul as their parents get rid of their assets in fire sales (Mum please don’t sell your coastal double block) but really, why wouldn’t you?
Treat yo’ self for your 40-odd years of working for the man by doing all the things you dreamed of but could never afford in money or time.
It’s no secret or surprise that Tasmania and Australia’s populations are ageing.
By 2042, it is estimated that there will be 6.2 million people aged over 65 roaming the countryside.
In the space of 40 years, that age demographic will almost double from 13 per cent to 25 per cent.
In Tassie, the median age is 41.6, according to the Bureau of Statistics, making us the oldest in the country.
In line with our ever-greying citizens, the federal government expects the demand for aged care to rise by a whopping 250 per cent in 40 years.
By 2050, about 10.3 per cent of Australians will require aged care.
The panic has already set in. Who is going to care for us?
The aged care sector is, itself, ageing.
There is a massive push for aged care workers, and skilled ones at that.
It’s estimated that to keep up with demand, 650 new workers have to start in the sector every month.
This is where Tasmania is in a cushy position, with the University of Tasmania recently introducing the country’s first bachelor of dementia care.
Reportedly, it’s the second most popular course.
But as well as physical healthcare, it’s time to start thinking about lifestyle options.
Look around you at your friends, family, colleagues and those vague associates whom you make awkward small talk with – will they be content with the aged care options available to them?
There has to be more to growing older than just backgammon and brandy.
No doubt an entrepreneur somewhere will cash in and make us all slap our palms to our brows with the genius simplicity of it all.
But before that happens, it’s not too early to start thinking about what we’ll be wanting from retirement when the time finally comes.
Whether it’s highly skilled workers, retirement villages on tropical islands, puppies that never turn into dogs or total solitude, it’s our twilight years.
Now that I think about it, brandy, backgammon, and a blue rinse doesn’t sound too bad at all.
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