The world is changing for retirees and older adults in unexpected ways. When it comes to analysing trends of senior lifestyles and demographics, the main focus is not on the impact of technology and digital innovation on daily living – at least not in the same way it impacts Gen X and the Millennials.
Rather, interesting trends related to marriage, careers and caregiving are defining the next stage of life for Baby Boomers.
Did you know that among adults over 50, the divorce rates have doubled since the 1990s? And for adults over 65, they have tripled?
This demographic trend has been coined “gray divorce.” According to the Pew Research Center, 2015 saw roughly 10 out of 1,000 marriages with adults over 50 end in divorce. What’s pushing the needle when it comes to this trend among older adults?
Statistically, second marriages are more likely to end in divorce, and the older demographic is more likely to be in a second marriage than a younger one.
Also, the prevalence of divorce in the U.S. makes it more acceptable and feasible for many couples compared to those who live in other countries.
And thirdly, women continue to grow their economic autonomy. They are able to provide for themselves through careers and in retirement, making their dependence on marriage for a means of living less and less necessary.
It is also important to note that as life expectancy has risen over the decades, the simple fact that you have more years to live means you have more years to potentially get divorced.
Last year, The New York Times reported that between the years 2000 and 2016, the number of adults over 65 working into their “Golden Years” grew from 12.8% to a whopping 18.8% with two-thirds of them holding full-time jobs.
Why are more and more seniors putting off retirement and working into their 70s?
In addition to seniors experiencing generally healthier lives as they age, thus being able to stay in the workforce, experts find that retirement policies have shifted and fewer seniors work towards maxing out pension benefits than before.
That and the fact that social security benefits increase each year you work post-retirement age has driven more and more seniors to stay in the workforce.
Financial need plays maybe the most important role, as more and more seniors are finding they don’t have enough of a safety net and simply aren’t capable of retiring “on time.”
The National Institute on Retirement Security conducted research that shows startling trends in dangerously low savings for retirement among older adults. They found that for working households nearing retirement, the median retirement account balance is only $13,000.
Older adults in their 50s, 60s and 70s might very well be providing some type of care for their own aging parents. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, there are currently over 40 million caregivers in the U.S., with most being women around age 50; 34% of caregivers are 65 or older.
Caregiving duties might include simple tasks like transporting parents to doctor’s appointments and filling prescriptions, or more skilled medical care like changing wound dressings and monitoring blood pressure ranges.
The trends in “gray divorce” and working past retirement age pose an interesting challenge for seniors who take on a caregiving role. Balancing work and caregiving while also possibly dealing with huge life changes and losing a potential support network can place a significant burden on both caregiver and their loved one.
While these lifestyle trends may seem more depressing for seniors, there are plenty of uplifting silver linings to keep in mind. Older adults are more active now than they have ever been, and with more activity comes better health and robust longevity.
The ability to work, the ability to pursue dreams and goals well into your 70s is only possible because seniors remain passionate about life, work and family.
Do you fall into one of these senior trends? What trends are you seeing amongst your friends and neighbours? Please share your observations and experiences below.