We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach.
— Gloria Steinem
The Aging & End of Life process is a topic that many do not want to discuss. It is considered taboo, and if you bring up the topic with your peers, they may pour some more wine, utter a passive-aggressive comment, or break out a joke in order to change the subject.
What do you think your generation's greatest strength will be when it comes to planning for Aging & End of Life?
Mallory: Millennials are known for having started the death positivity movement. It’s not that they welcome or invite death; it is that they have a realistic understanding that life ends with death and that death is inevitable. I believe that acceptance will impact Millennials’ ability to plan appropriately for their Aging & End of Life process. Having this pragmatic life view will benefit my generation as we plan to live longer than any generation before us.
Sue: My generation, the Baby Boomers, have come to expect life on their terms, and in their own way. We are a diverse group, so one size will not fit all! Our approach to aging is with energy and a desire to keep active, productive, and learning. Our strength will be to seek out the most positive experiences as we age, and at the end of our lives. We want to influence and shape the places we live in to be more inclusive, appealing, and sustainable. We will want more desirable options for housing, home care, technological solutions, and civic life experiences.
What do you think your generation's greatest weakness will be when it comes to planning for Aging & End of Life?
Sue: I feel that my peers are fearful about aging, and so a weakness will be our reluctance to accept the idea of getting older, which creates a blind spot to our longevity, and the potential for facing some new limitations. In that way, my age group can be “in the dark” or unrealistic about how far our resources may go to support ourselves in older life.
Many of my peers are relying on government to fill the gap between their own resources and what will be needed to support what could be a 100-year life. However, we don’t have a handle on what those costs might be, or what the government will pay for. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the vulnerability that often occurs in later life stages. I believe that this awakening will galvanize my peers to seek new housing and support options that ensure the maintain agency over their lives is maintained, even in the latest stages or at end of life.
Mallory: I think like any young generation at any point in time, we struggle to envision what life will be like when we are “old.” Millennials are between the age of twenty-five and forty years old right now. They’re focused on building their careers, finding a life partner, starting a family, and so on. They’re very focused on the "here and now" and it’s difficult for them to imagine how important it is to take the time during their twenties, thirties, and forties to prepare for the aging process of their sixties, seventies, eighties. This could be our downfall as a generation.
We have more resources, more access to support, more technology than any generation before us. We need to use that to our advantage and become a generation that plans for the future in a way that no generation before us has.