Silver Tsunami. It’s a phrase I hear often. And I read about it every day: ‘The oldest of the baby boomers reached 65 in 2011!’, ‘One person turns 65 every eight seconds!’, ‘4 million people become senior citizens each year!’…I’ve read them all!
Most people understand very little about the unique problems we’re faced with in Northern Ontario. With a greater aging population than the rest of Ontario, our shortage of health care professionals, our lack of facilities and beds, and the large area in which our demography lives, we’re facing some serious challenges. It seems that few have really grasped the enormity of the situation or the extent of its consequences and the rest don’t want to talk about it. I’ve noticed that many organizations in the North are surprisingly ill-prepared and even worse, still have no plans to prepare. And I’ve seen it in every single sector. Companies that are stuck with antiquated ideas of what leadership is, misappropriating time and money, and fearful to veer from their status quo.
We need to shake ourselves out of this complacency. Our focus needs to be on connecting people – the elderly and the people that care for them; partnerships – real connections between the non-profit and the corporations; and technology – investing in better, faster and cheaper solutions that promise to add to a more sustainable future. Rather than simply collaborating on solutions, now is the time to embrace different ways of looking at things and become ready to adapt.
We need to start by simply turning our eyes in the direction of potential solutions. Will every one of them be a winner? Not a chance. But how do we know if we don’t have the conversation?
Baby boomer news coverage is so commonly mentioned that it doesn’t get people to stop their thumbs anymore. And I get it. It’s not always a very fun conversation. But discounting it will not make the growing challenges go away. And if we’re always playing catch up we’ll always feel like we’re drowning.
The greatest barrier to our thinking is that that we have to tackle the silver tsunami alone. Collectively and collaboratively we can shush our existing beliefs and open up our minds to new thinking. With practice and persistence these skills can be learned and they are also the beginning of creativity and innovation in this area. After all, many minds make for many masters!