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“…a Grey Tsunami is fast approaching. The 55 and over age group will move into the lead spot…” – Bruce McIntyre, Choices Do Matter

Grey Tsunami was not the best word for my story on Keep Charlotte Friendly.

Grey Tsunami is an oxymoron. The term contains two words with very different meanings – a ‘trustworthy con-artist’ for example.

Tsunamis happen fast. They come on quickly, with no advance warning. But we grey over time. First a few strands of hair, then a few more.

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By 2050, the population of US citizens 65 and over is expected to double from 2012 levels – and go from approximately 14% of the population to over 20%. Click this image to see the full report.

The United States started collecting census data back in 1790. People have been studying shifts in demographics for 225 years, yet we continue to choose a shortened view.

The term Grey Tsunami is used as an excuse for our short sighted planning. We make it sound as though life snuck-up on us, took us by surprise.

Shame on me for employing the attention grabbing phrase – Grey Tsunami. Headlines like that may hook my reader but they don’t deliver value.

Jeanette Leardi, offered a better perspective in her comments on my Keep Charlotte Friendly story. She says, “… by transcending aging, we can transform society.”

“Imagine opening up to elders the floodgates of opportunity so wide that the energy and power of all that pent-up wisdom and experience inundate society, creating new businesses that hire millions of young people; offering innovative, multi-perspective solutions to longstanding social problems; and providing multitudes of volunteers for nonprofit causes.

“Let’s erase from our social lexicon the ageist image of a silver tsunami, gently correcting others who use it. Let’s replace it with the metaphor of a vital and inexhaustible resource, and offer this life-affirming – and accurate – picture of how, by transcending aging, we can transform society.”

Isn’t that great? Why can’t we do that? Why can’t we keep Charlotte friendly by making us anti-ageist?

grey-tsunami-computerImagine using the power, wisdom and experience of our older neighbors to create new businesses that hire young people, offer innovative solutions to old social problems, and create volunteers spots to nonprofit causes.

Thank you, Jeanette Leardi.

This was never a tsunami. It was a natural thing that populations do, they age over time. We have time to get ready for anything, if we pay attention.

What assumptions do you make when you see someone who looks older?

How do you want society to view you as you age?

When do you think people lose their value to a community? Why?

If we wanted to make Charlotte, or any community, age-friendly, where would we start? Can ‘anti-ageist’ be part of the plan?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran

Epilogue

Blue Zones began as Dan Buettner’s National Geographic project to find the recipe for the longest living communities around the world.

What he discovered on a Japanese island gave him the answer to why Okinawans get up in the morning. “Their purpose-imbued lives gives them clear roles of responsibility and feeling of being needed well into their 100s.”

Take a look: