Aging can be emotional and stressful. What you were once able to do easily might take double the time. The fear of losing independence and the consequences can dominate your life.
In addition, the rapidly aging population is increasing the burden on society and is challenging norms around retiring at 65.
Research has shown that demographics are shifting, quickly, with the number of people aged 60 and above rising from 901 million in 2015 to an estimated 2.1 billion people by 2050. Furthermore, the fertility rates of the younger generations are lower than those of their parent, leading to a world where the number of elderly will outweigh the younger generation significantly. Even more surprising is that 1 in 4 people aged 65 and above will never be able to fully retire.
What does this mean?
Society was designed around retiring at 65. Jobs end at 65 and pensions kick-in at 65. As a result, individuals who choose not to retire at 65 will be forced to give up their social security in exchange for their desire to remain integrated in the workforce. Consequently, this raises the question as to how society will shift to accommodate the changing demographics and to sustain the growing elderly population.
Not only does aging impact the elderly, but also the sandwich generation. These are Gen X or baby-boomers who are trying to juggle the pressure of supporting both their parents, as well as their children. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance (2016), approximately 70 percent of family caregivers experience difficulties in their professional activity due to the challenges of balancing both their work and their dependents. For example, caregivers might have to cut back hours, rearrange their work schedule, or even leave the workforce to accommodate their caregiving duty. Coughlin, J. (2010) estimated a 18.5 percent reduction in family caregivers' professional activity due to these challenges. Therefore, there is a need to alleviate the pressure to enable caregivers to succeed in both their home duties and their work duties.
Finally, aging often comes hand-in-hand with isolation and loneliness. The loss of close family members and friends can result in social death, or the loss of one's physical capability to engage in activities that define social identity and enhance self worth. Thus, gradually losing interest in integrating in society, resulting in a lower quality of life and a rapid decline in health. The importance of community and personal satisfaction cannot be overlooked. A study by the Milken Institute (2016) indicated that self-perceptions have physical consequences on the elderly. That is, elderly with a positive self-perception tend to live 7.5 times longer than those who do not.
Thrive was conceived to help address the issues of an aging population and the implications on all generations - youth, gen X, and the elderly. Our goal is to use multi-generational interactions through skill swaps, online and offline events, and group activities to allow the elderly to remain integrated and independent in society, to relieve the stress on caregivers, and to enable the youth to benefit from the immense knowledge transfer and sharing from the elderly generation. By curating these interactions, Thrive engages all generations to make aging fun.