Thirty years from today, the youngest baby boomer turns 74 years old, and the oldest turns 92. We still won’t know how many boomers will live to age 100, but barring an unforeseen catastrophe, well north of 2 million eventually will. A remarkable number of the 2038 vintage boomers will have health status superior to that of their grandparents at age 65. What follows is a look backward from the world of 30 years hence.
Rather than moving en masse into “same age” retirement communities as many forecasters and developers predicted, many millions of baby boomers sold both their suburban houses and cars, and moved back into center cities, embracing an active urban lifestyle.
A significant number of boomers, even those with bomb-proof resource positions, were still working 30 years hence, perhaps as many as one-third of the generation. While many worked because they lacked sufficient retirement savings, a larger number of boomers worked because there were constitutionally incapable of retiring. Baby boom entrepreneurs continued creating new enterprises well into the third decade of the 21st century, both business and community-based, funded by trillions of dollars in capital boomers controlled. Boomers continued laying a foundation of intellectual property and infrastructure which created tens of millions of new jobs for the much larger millennial generation that began in 1979. These new jobs, in turn, generated greater fiscal capacity to help fund Medicare and Social Security benefits for baby boomers.
On the health front, early onset of symptoms of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension spurred by the 1990-2010 obesity epidemic catalyzed an awareness on the part of boomers, federal policymakers, employers and boomers’ children of the risks of a shortened life span. While a depressing number of obese boomers failed to make it to Medicare age, adult obesity first drifted down, then plummeted in the decade of 2015-2025, spurred by new advances in understanding of human metabolism and profound dietary and lifestyle changes. The trend was aided materially by a sharp increase in sales taxes on soft drinks and snack foods, and an exemption for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Employers, health plans and families aggressively embraced new Web-based tools for evaluating and improving personal health, and people connected to each other and their caregivers through expanding and vital online communities. As wireless broadband connectivity became ubiquitous, the cell phone/mobile computing platform sprouted powerful sensors that monitored people’s health in their homes and cars through a kind of “OnStar for people,” protecting them and continuously connecting them to the care system. People that encountered life threats were whisked to medical centers in minutes by remotely piloted emergency air ambulances, stabilized en route by mobile, remotely managed intensive-care platforms.