Do you remember the milk industry’s big push for attention: pictures of famous faces with obvious milk moustaches. Those stick with you – as good advertising should. What will be the next “Got milk?” campaign? Consider this: “Got parents?” Of course we do! Most of us have thought about our folks and where they are heading in the years and decades to come. It is a valid topic to have on your mind. The issue will come up; it is not IF but rather WHEN.
Retiring baby boomers make up the quickest growing group in our society. January 2011 represented a major tipping point on the timeline wherein 10,000 people now turn 65 years old EVERY DAY in the United States. Worth noticing what they are calling the “Silver Tsunami”? I think so.
So what does this tipping point mean to us as a nation, to my own profession, and to me personally as I look ahead to the next 30 years? My folks, born in 1950, are true baby boomers, the group we’re discussing here. Even as they age, baby boomers still set the trends because they constitute such a bulge in the population. Their wants and needs – and where they spend their money – tell us how to market, what products to develop, how to cater to what they feel is important to them. They are “driving the bus” from an economic perspective. This relates to every kind of consumer good: from housing selection to internet advertising, from health care to skin care.
What does this have to do with me; I am only 38, for gosh sakes! I will tell you what it has to do with me: everything – personally, professionally, financially, and any other-ly you can name. “Why?” you ask.
- Personally - because I am an only child. Decisions about my parents’ extended and end of life care after independent living will fall directly in my lap.
- Professionally - because I am an architect. My business in residential architecture will be directly affected by what baby boomers decide over the next three decades about what they want their living conditions to look and feel like, care and provide for them, and cost them as well.
- Financially - because I am a son. I love my parents very much and they have been there for me every step of the way – today, yesterday – and will be there for me tomorrow as well. I owe them more than I could ever repay, and I will put my whole mind, heart, and soul into returning the favor when that task comes knocking on my door.
I am Aaron Murphy, the owner and lead architect of the firm ADM Architecture in Poulsbo, WA. I’ve been practicing architecture for more than 15 years in Western Washington, and I plan to stay in this wonderful part of the country for the rest of my professional career. I have two beautiful children, Noah, 7, and Paige, 4. Their Nana and Papa (turning 62 this year) are an amazing part of my children’s lives. I hope to help my parents stay independent and able in body, mind and spirit for as long as possible. Ninety percent of the aging population says they want to stay in their homes for the remainder of their lives if possible. They want to keep their freedom and independence. They want to “not be a burden” on others with their needs, even as those needs increase. They want to keep their pets and see their grandchildren regularly.
This is what drives me as an architect: to help my parents (and everyone’s parents) and give back to those in need as their needs change in the years ahead. That is why I pursued national certification as an expert in designing for the aging and elder populations. My Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation from the National Association of Home Builders shows I’ve taken the additional training and have the knowledge to help that large percentage of our population turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day.
As one famous baby boomer sang: “…the times, they are a-changin’…”