How old is older?

How old is older? The year 2011 saw the first of the “Baby Boomer” generation – those born between 1946 and 1964 – turn 65 and join the ranks of some 400,000 other older Albertans. It is difficult to create a comprehensive portrait that can illustrate the wide diversity of Alberta’s older adult population, and because of this, there is no longer a single word or phrase to describe this demographic of people. Age 65, which used to mark the transition from work to retirement, is no longer adequate as people retire earlier, later or never. Second or “encore” careers are becoming more commonplace and many older adults say they are busier than ever with family, paid work, volunteer and leisure activities. Rather, Alberta’s population of older adults is a diverse group whose lives have been shaped by their many experiences and differing life circumstances. These Albertans now span more than two generations and range in age from 65 to more than 100 years. As in the rest of Canada, older Albertans are the fastest growing age group in the province. In fact, it is projected that by 2027, there could be more Albertans who are over age 65 than there are children under the age of 15. Within another decade it is likely one in five Albertans will be 65 years of age or older – all with varying skills, abilities, support systems, living arrangements, levels of education, health and personal wealth. Aging well takes on a whole new meaning and is more important than ever before.