Editor's Desk - May 2011
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Are You Ready?

Nobody is talking about this, but it's going to be huge. How can we take advantage of that?"

Those were the words spoken by a former editor in chief I worked with, about 10 years ago, as we discussed the coming wave of baby boomer retirements.

At the time, I was working for a publishing company that covered trends and best practices in organizational learning and development (read: training), as well as workforce performance issues. In those industries, the alarm bells started ringing early. A vast wave of highly experienced professionals were about to leave the workforce. What was to be done to ensure companies and organizations didn't falter in the aftermath?

Now that reality is upon us, as baby boomers begin to reach retirement age. While a recent survey showed many of this cohort are not sure they're financially able to retire, there's no stopping the slow march of time. In other words, even if they remain in the workforce, the fact that the majority of the generation is now past the age of 50 is going to make a difference in industries across the board. In the recreation, sports and fitness facility marketplace, you can see evidence of the impact this has on everything from the types of facilities built to the kinds of equipment and amenities installed within.

The debate over the effect of so many retiring—and growing older—at the same time ranges wide and far, from discussions about what to do about the ballooning costs of medical care to internal discussions at organizations across the country, wondering how to ensure a seamless—or as seamless as possible—transition, as younger workers move into positions of greater prominence.

The International Council on Active Aging has gone so far as to launch an entire initiative that aims to "rebrand" aging. The movement will leverage the numbers, needs, desires and purchasing power of the 50-plus market to win the attention of marketers and media.

While it's not mentioned directly, you can see the influence of the baby boomer generation all over this initiative. Baby boomers—never satisfied with the status quo—have had a huge impact on the culture in which we live and work. Of course they are going to change the way we age, starting with eliminating the stereotypes about what aging itself means.

Said Colin Milner, CEO of ICAA, of the initiative's importance: "With the Rebranding Aging campaign, we're launching a new movement across North America aimed at shifting those perceptions, and maximizing opportunities at every age. By changing these views and expectations, society will not only manage population aging better, but also promote a new way of aging."

The association and its partners plan to launch the initiative officially on May 9. Stay tuned for more details on how you, as a professional in the recreation, sports and fitness industry, can manage the challenges and leverage the opportunities associated with the burgeoning population of older adults.

Evidence of the shift can also be found in our annual coverage of the Innovative Architecture and Design Awards, where two of our winners, plus one highlighted project, focus almost exclusively on the older-adult population they serve. One of those facilities, The Summit in Grand Prairie, Texas, seems to be a harbinger of things to come, as the recreation industry adapts to the needs of two very different kinds of older adult. (Turn to page 32 to read more about that facility.)

How is your organization getting ready for all the ways the baby boomers will change aging? Are you ready?


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director


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