On Thursday, June 12, 2014, we held an event with the Center for American Progress on the two demographic shifts that are changing our country — the rapid aging of our population, and the growth of communities of color.
Following is an edited transcript of our co-director Ai-jen Poo’s presentation at the event. You can also watch the entire panel by clicking the “play” button above.
At Caring Across Generations, we’ve thought a lot about what’s being called the “silver tsunami.” Rather than seeing it as an apocalyptic natural disaster, we see it as a huge opportunity. What we mean by that is that it really is changing so much about the way that we live, work and play in this country, and it’s an opportunity to strengthen our relationships across generations, strengthen our connections, and strengthen our values in a way that is more inclusive and a vision for the future.
Already, things are changing: 76 percent of all Americans do embrace aging. These Americans intend to age gracefully and are not afraid of it, which is a big cultural difference from 20 years ago.
One of the big changes that is happening is that people want to age in place and at home to be connected to community and family. The idea of aging in place is a huge priority. Nine out of ten older Americans (boomers and seniors) want to age in place. There needs to be a lot more support and infrastructure in order for that to happen and that doesn’t currently exist.
The truth is that the 2 million workers that do this caregiving work are not enough to meet the incredible demand. As a result, homecare workers and domestic workers are the fastest growing workforce in the country because of this tremendous need. Despite the important role they are playing in bridging us to the next America, they are earning poverty wages, under a tremendous amount of stress, and they’re not able to support their own families. We have a situation where while there’s incredible opportunity to live longer and all that this means for our quality of life, there are enormous challenges to support the needs that people have as they age and the families that are connected to them.
At Caring Across Generations, we saw this — our aging population and our caregiving needs — as a huge opportunity to bring people together across age, race, and geography to have a conversation about where our interests meet, intersect, and build a movement from that place of where we all come together.
We have found that homecare and supporting our growing elder population in our country to age in place is an incredibly powerful entry point to bring these interests together, to improve and create more jobs, and to create more choices for our seniors and people with disabilities to live independently. We have also found that it is an incredibly powerful entry point for the kind of values conversation we need to be having about what kind of country we are, what kind of country we are becoming, and who we want to be as a country going forward and creating a vision that is truly inclusive of all of us.
We are building a Caring Majority movement. This is a movement that connects people across race, generation, experience, and geography and it’s all about having homecare as an entry point to have a conversation about where our interests come together. We ultimately want to start crafting a majority vision that is about uplifting all of us, and where we can all see our future and future generations supported.
Our vision is that there is real opportunity that is available to everyone. We not only think that it’s the right thing to do — but that we can’t afford not to do this.
Join us in building the Caring Majority. Click here: http://bit.ly/ActforCare.