One hundred years ago, it was almost unthinkable that in less than a century a fair size of the population would be living healthy and productive lives into their seventies, eighties, nineties and beyond.
A recent report by social researcher Claire Madden provides a demographic crystal ball glance into an exciting future, where it is thought babies born today will be more likely to reach 100 than any children in history.
This will provide future generations with both many opportunities and challenges.
My report on isolation and loneliness of among senior Victorians, Ageing is everyone’s business concludes we need to:
“… empower senior Victorians to have a meaningful role, value and purpose as they age.”
And so as we gaze into the future, as we plan for a world where many of today’s babies can hope to live longer and healthier lives, one of the most important questions will be: what is it that gives our lives meaning and purpose as we age?
This is an exciting opportunity – and as Commissioner for Senior Victorians - I enjoy the idea that what we as seniors are doing today in many ways leaves a legacy for the seniors of tomorrow.
I spend lots of time out in local communities across Victoria talking with, and listening to, senior Victorians. Many senior Victorians share with me the experiences and benefits they derive from volunteering and ‘unpaid work’. They often use words like “I get back more than I give” or “I get a real sense of value and purpose” or “Most of all I love being able to use the skills I have developed throughout my life.”
Over the next decade, we will see more Victorians move into and through their 60s than any prior generation. My crystal ball says that we are about to re-shape the concepts of retirement, of transition from work to retirement, of combining work, retirement, life after 60 years and volunteering in so many different ways. That exciting change is only just beginning.
It is thus these changes that will also shape the world, the future, for today’s babies.
Commissioner for Senior Victorians
Gerard Mansour is a passionate advocate for the rights and needs of older Victorians, with more than 25 years’ experience working in the aged and wider community service sectors. He has contributed significantly to policy development and implementation of services assisting senior Victorians.