My friend Vijay shared with me an article about the concept YOLD, the Young OLD! It reminded me of a conversation I had with another friend and classmate Dhananjay. Once while chatting, Dhananjay said, “In my home, the situation has become tricky. People in the outside world consider me as a senior citizen; but since both my parents live with me, my father sometimes does not realise that I am reaching the age of seventy. So, I am a junior-senior citizen in my home!” That was a terrific observation. We forget these things quite quickly. There is a saying, “When your son can wear your shoes, start treating him as a friend!” Okay, ladies, sorry! “When your daughter starts using your lipstick, start treating her as your friend!”
In India, people of my generation rarely had parents who worked professionally. Working ladies as a concept was quite rare in that generation. When and if they reached the age of 70 like me, they were treated with reverence. They had faced a tough life and had many experiences to share. Financially, how the joint families of those days survived, is challenging to understand. Money available for survival was less and hence the requirements were lesser. The joint family meant that people did not need “space” as people need or expect today! People lived in “Wadas” in those days; reduced “space” included toilets too! There was one toilet for about 30 people!
As per the article I have mentioned above, YOLD are the people who are now between 65 and 75! They were born just after world war!!! Those who are in professional fields many times don’t retire at all. Retirement in olden days was 58 or 60, and people used to retire. Many things happened during the lifespan of YOLDS! Improvement in cleanliness, better medical facilities and diagnostics facilities are some of them. Better job and business opportunities helped them to work beyond “retirement”. Combination of various factors improved the health and careers of YOLDS. The result was a notable increase in the number of YOLDS around, and they have decent money, time, space. They also show a willingness to try new things, travel around the globe. The number of YOLDS will grow in future to a sizable population with time and money in the pocket. Combine these traits of the community with decent health, and now you will know why they are called YOLD-young old!
The YOLDS are the marketing person’s dream. The tourism industry is bound to grow in leaps and bounds. Whenever I chat with any friend or acquaintance from this age group, they are either travelling or have just come back from travel. Maybe they are going to travel next week.
A German study found that people who remain at work after the normal retirement age manage to slow the cognitive decline associated with old age and have a cognitive capacity of someone a year and a half younger. What Jaya and I do is keep our brain sufficiently busy, which holds many health issues at bay. Chances of brain-related problems, like Dementia, can get delayed. When money and time are not the issues, one can be in a perpetual travel mode or try something new. Jaya and I have already firmed up travel plans for the next three months. Another friend Sham and his wife are in this mode since he sold off his business a couple of years back.
In short, YOLD are not just any group of older adults. They are challenging the traditional expectations of the retired people who wear slippers and look after their grandchildren. The growth in YOLD population will disrupt consumer, service and financial markets.
Higher numbers of healthy YOLD people will require drastic changes in health spending. Most diseases of ageing are best met with prevention and lifestyle changes. Now the gyms are offering “Golden Hours” for YOLDS. The timings are between 11 am to 6 pm, and I use this timing to go to the gym. I already see some other people from my age-group utilising the facility. My physician has told me to do some trade mill exercises, followed by weight training. Weight training is to reduce the rate of reduction in muscle strength. My physician told me, “This is to ensure that you can stow your cabin baggage on the flights when you travel! 🙂🙂
YOLDS will help health industry business in the prevention field because many of us want it. We take vitamin tablets, and we buy food supplement which will be gluten-free. To pursue our lifestyle with vigour, we get ourselves checked regularly to ensure that our body functions are in good shape. I was treated for cancer in 2013/14. Every year I get a CAT scan done to ensure that there is no recurrence. These labs will wish that I am around for a long time! 🙂🙂
The over-60s are one of the fastest-growing groups of customers of the airline business. The YOLDs are vital to the tourism industry because they spend much more on taking a foreign holiday than younger adults. They are also changing education. YOLDs are going to help the education business too! Last year, I did an online course in creative writing from Oxford. Why did I do it? Why not is the simple answer! Another friend told me that he had started work on his second PhD. He completed his first PhD at the age of 69! He loved painting when he was a child; he has started it again. He has now completed about 20 portraits.
Another friend Sudhakar takes a keen interest in his painting and is as good or better than many professional painters. He runs his business on the side, sometimes. Sample of one of his paintings is displayed above.
Jaya has firmed up her plans to restart Warli paintings which she had started a few years back but could not continue because of family commitments. Some of her samples are shown above.
Another area where the business is going up is finance. YOLDS have money and are going to be around for some time. For companies, they did not exist once they passed a certain age as they were not going to buy any Life Insurance. But now YOLDS want to invest some money in annuity returns and sometimes in mutual funds. They are not interested in long term gains for apparent reasons. That reminds me of a joke, and it is not cynical but practical. An 85 year goes to buy bananas. The seller says, “You buy these bananas, but they will ripe after ¾ days.” The old man smiles and says, “These days I plan for ¾ hours, forget ¾ days. Give me bananas which I can eat right away!
But there will be societal hurdles because society may not understand the importance of YOLDS, especially the productive ones. The YOLD will demand that companies become more age-friendly and, in the process, help change attitudes towards ageing itself.
Government policies will have to change, too. The retirement age in many rich countries is still below the age to which many people want to work. The effective retirement age (the age at which people leave the workforce) is usually even lower. Public policy makes retirement a precipice where you fall instead of offering a better exits where YOLDS can smoothly go out of the workforce depending on their capabilities.
The society should realise that the theme song of the YOLDS is the great poem by Robert Frost. The lines below are the last four lines of the poem. Friends if you need the full poem, try the following link.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.