The Silver Tsunami Is On Its Way!

Rethinking The Way We Think About What It Means To Get Older

Integrating Seniors Into Communities
Photo:Sarah.249 on Flickr Creative Commons
The Silver Tsunami Is On Its Way!
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The Silver Tsunami Is On Its Way!

America is getting older and Connecticut is growing grayer faster than almost every other state.

The first batch of baby boomers hit 65 in 2011, and Connecticut’s over-65 population is expected to grow by more than 64% by the time the last batch turns 65 in 2029.  When they retire, here’s what we’re looking at: A smaller and less skilled pool of workers to replace them.

But don’t expect this new group of seniors to just retire all at once; they’ll be working longer, in part because they want to, but also to rebuild those nest eggs smashed during the recession.

They’ll also need to find ways to pay for a college education for their children, those costs are going up all the time.  And they’ll need to find ways to care for their own aging parents who are living well into their 80s and beyond.  

It seems like the whole idea of what it means to be “senior” or “elderly” or even “aging” is changing fast.

This effect has been called the “Silver Tsunami” and that’s our conversation today, Where We Live.

***This episode originally aired on February 13, 2013.***



Andrew writes:

Dear John,

I am a 63 year old architect, and several years ago became a " Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist" through a National Association of Home Builders program. Early on I confirmed that no one discipline can solve these problems and have recognized the need to network with professional in law, finance, health-care, etc.

I wish that I had been able to comment during today's show, because so many of the difficulties facing seniors, the 'sandwich generation" and their families can be addressed by "virtual villages" like Home Haven in the New Haven area (

Particularly, villages can resolve the issue of isolation for those mostly confined to their homes.

Perhaps you could look into doing a show on "virtual villages" and the village to village network (see

Richard writes:

John, Connecticut has two major problems concerning the graying population which together make for a perfect solution:

1. A large percentage of persons at and after retirement age will not receive sufficient income to stay in their homes and feed themselves.

2. A lot of kids in their teens need coaching and skill-building to find good careers and qualify for jobs .

Answer: Have the State subsidize the use of qualified senior citizens to coach and aid in skill-building for teenage kids.

It will be necessary for the State ( or by delegation the Towns ) to oversee this “Senior-to-Kids” program. There needs to be a program structure. There needs to be criteria by which to qualify instructors. There also must be a measurements system for judging performance. Towns would provide the space ( buildings ) in which to conduct the instruction.

Sounds like a potential win-win to me.

Anonymous writes:

I don't want to seem cold but, I am a fledgeling entrepeneuer. Seniors are a growing demographic. In order to get seniors what they need, they need money. In order for services to be available, there needs to be not only a demand but a financial incentive. What can people like me, who want to start businesses which help seniors do without taking advantage of a person living on a fixed income or taking advantage of government aid?