The Changing Face of Aging


Cape Cod is home to twice the national average of people 65 and older. This has impacts for the region in almost every measure of a community: in the economy, the workforce, health care, and  family structures.  There are ways in which it poses a challenge to the region—but equally, it’s a source of opportunity.

Our new 5-part series examines how ideas about aging beyond 65 are changing, and how, thanks to advances in medicine and technology, the reality of aging is changing, too. Exploring this transformation, we look at emploment, social connection, "aging in place," and the impact of the opioid epidemic.

It airs all the week of December 11, 2017. 

More than 2,300 grandparents are raising their grandchildren in Barnstable County, according to a state report from 2016. Advocates for grandparents on Cape Cod point to the opioid crisis to explain why so many are skipping retirement and stepping up as parents once again.

In many ways there’s never been a better time in human history to be aging. As knee joints and shoulders give way, or with the first onset of disease, advances in surgery and preventive medicine have meant people can continue being active longer, and with more enjoyment. And the population on the Cape and Islands is well positioned to benefit from these advances. 

Kathryn Eident / WCAI-FM

Three-quarters of Americans over age 45 live in single-family homes, according to AARP. As homeowners age though, it can become increasingly difficult for them to remain in their homes safely. In recent years, a growing number of people have begun retrofitting their homes with new safety features and technology to help them live in their homes longer.

Brian Morris/WCAI

As people age into their 60s, 70s and 80s, senior centers can offer a way to stay active and engaged. But many senior centers also suffer from an identity crisis. One Cape Cod senior center has been broadening its programs and activities to attract people who otherwise might never set foot inside.

Kathryn Eident

Age 65 used to be the golden age to retire. But as guaranteed pensions dwindle and life expectancy grows, more people are working well beyond their 60s. The result is changing what it means to retire.

The first installment of our series, “The Changing Face of Aging: Challenges and Opportunities,” introduces us to two mature workers who hope to bring home a paycheck for years to come.

We’re not just living longer than previous generations; how and where we’re living in our later years is changing as well. What are some of the reasons the life of seniors today is different from previous generations, and how are we and our communities adapting to those changes?