Is your business ready for the Silver Tsunami? The Silver Tsunami is the clever moniker given to the wave of Baby Boomers who start turning 65 in 2011. And, they present a monumental opportunity for small business owners.
The number of people age 65 and older will double between 2010 and 2050, with the number of those 85 and older increasing four fold. This growing and aging demographic creates job and entrepreneurial opportunities for businesses of all types.
“Doctors alone don’t deliver geriatric care,” said Richard Allman, gerontology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). “You’ve got to have a team to optimize the quality of life for older people.
We’re recruiting students who are dentists, physical and occupational therapists, nurses, optometrists, psychologists and a number of other disciplines.”
Allman says there is work to be done in other fields besides medicine. Architects and engineers will need to design products, buildings, and transportation facilities that are appropriate for an aged society.
Educators will need to plan how to train people in mid career to do new tasks and use new technology in order to be affective workers. Businesses are going to need older workers to keep their enterprises going.
“We need public policy experts who know the impact of changing policy on health care costs, Social Security and retirement plans,” said Allman. “We need sociologists who understand the risk of intergenerational conflict and psychologists engaged in aging work. And clearly we need optometrists and dentists and therapists and medical people in every discipline.”
And, even if your business doesn’t specialize in a service specifically designed for older folks, you may need to customize your services to this burgeoning and monied demographic.
“The boomers have always gotten what they want when they want it, with the demographic numbers to push society to accede to their demands,” said Andrew Duxbury, a UAB geriatrician. “They are not a generation to sit back and let history roll over them. They’ll go out and make their own history.”
Duxbury predicts this trend will continue.
“The boomers, with their health and vitality relatively intact into older age, will completely change how Americans conceive of what it means to be old,” he said. “In twenty years, Cher, still looking the same as today, will be on her 10th farewell tour, your average senior citizen’s dance will have couples getting down to the Rolling Stones and 80-somethings will be riding their Harleys at Sturgis.”