It is always tricky proclaiming zeitgeist shifts, difficult enough to pinpoint in retrospect, much less while the winds of change are swirling still. Yet when it comes to the ideal for later life and retirement, there is an argument to be made that profound change is in the air.
More than 50 years have elapsed since the last great shift in the norm for later life. As the 1950s dawned, the labor leader Walter Reuther described retirees as “too old to work, too young to die,” consigned to a Whistler’s mother-like existence, idling away in a “roleless role.” Then, in rapid succession, we turned that around, transforming this leftover phase into the golden years, an extended vacation focused on carefree fun and epitomized by retirement communities with names like Leisure World.
A half-century later, the old dream is collapsing, ill-suited to a longevity revolution that is stretching the length of life and a demographic transformation reshaping the makeup of society. No surprise that a new, more sustainable vision for the post-midlife period is in the midst of being fashioned, not by grand policy but by myriad developments from far-flung sources.Wall Street Journal